As if getting into the NFL wasn’t hard enough in the first place, it’s even harder to be a kicker in the league, let alone one who keeps a job with a team.
Commentator Terry Pluto says NFL kickers face the pressure of perfection.
“They’re not supposed to miss an extra point. They aren’t supposed to miss a field goal. I mean, after all, what do they do? They just kick the ball a few times a game,” said Pluto. “That’s how people in football see it.”
For the Cleveland Browns, the search for a kicker has been launched since the departure of Phil Dawson in free agency in 2012. Dawson, the Browns leading franchise in field goal achieved (among other franchise records), signed with the San Francisco 49ers, then Arizona to end his career in 2018.
Since 2012, Pluto says the Browns have gone through nine different kickers. None started two years in a row.
A ray of hope came when Cody Parkey reached 87.4% of his field goal last season, but was injured in the preseason and was released.
Enter Chase McLaughlin, an NFL journeyman who went from competing for a starting role to getting by default, and then exceeded expectations.
“It looks like when you’re at the airport and you see all the flights taking off and the towns. That’s what it looked like for this guy.”
Who is Chase McLaughlin?
McLaughlin was a walk-on at the University of Illinois. At the end of his academic career, he was awarded the Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year honor, awarded to the best kicker in the Big Ten.
McLaughlin was not drafted in 2019, so he made brief stints with nine different teams: the Bills, Vikings, Chargers, 49ers, Colts, Jaguars, Jets and now Browns.
“It looks like when you’re at the airport and you see all the flights taking off and the cities. That’s what it looked like for this guy,” Pluto said.
Chase Mc “Luck” linen
McLaughlin has been stellar for the Browns so far, getting a perfect 7 for 7 on field goals. He joined Phil Dawson as the only Browns kickers to have made at least two field goals from 50 yards or more in a single game.
McLaughlin had a 57-yard field goal against the Bears, the third longest in Browns history.
“If this guy ends up kicking here to [a while] and ends up doing well, that will be history, ”Pluto said. “The kicker who was right there in case the starter gets injured gets the job. ”
While he’s been doing well so far, Pluto reminds fans of Dawson’s mantra: “You’re only as good as your next kick.”