The Cleveland Browns have a new kicker just in time for the season opener Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
He’s not Shayne Graham and his spasm-y back.
He’s not some YouTube sensation from Norway.
He’s not Italian-born Giorgio Tavecchio, who sounds more like a great chef at a new Murray Hill Rd. restaurant than a great kicker.
Nope. It’s Billy Cundiff, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports. You might remember Billy from such seasons as 2009, in which he subbed for an injured Phil Dawson. Cundiff played in five games that season and was 6-for-6 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra point attempts. Wait, four extra point attempts in eight games? Oh, right, that was the Dawg Pound Mike season in which the Browns started 1-11. Of course, that win was thanks to an 18-yard game-winning field goal with 22 seconds remaining in a 6-3 win over Buffalo. Oh, god, just writing that sentence makes me want to huff glue.
Dawson came back that season while Cundiff went on to Baltimore. It was the following season in which he earned a Pro Bowl berth (of course). After making only 75.7 percent of his field goals for the Ravens in 2011, Cundiff played for San Francisco and Washington last season. He appeared in five games for the Redskins and was 7-for-12 in field goals.
This season, Cundiff, who is in his eighth NFL season out of Drake, was cut from the New York Jets in lieu of Dan Carpenter. In three preseason games, Cundiff was 3-for-3 from 30, 26 and 32 yards.
Now, Cundiff will be the man to replace legend and future ring-of-honor member Phil Dawson.
Ah, Phil. For 13 seasons, the Cleveland Browns did not have to worry about its place kicker. He was one of, if not the, best in the NFL. As far as the non-special teams positions in Cleveland during that span, well, yeah, there was plenty to fret over needed upgrades. But not kicker.
Will Cundiff make it through an entire season in Cleveland? His recent display of accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the nasty outdoor games come November and December.
Yet with all this talk of a new-and-improved, fun-and-gun offense, perhaps the idea of settling for field goals will be the hallmark of the Mangini and Shurmur Eras, not Rob Chudzinski? Wow, that sounds even too optimistic for me.