Although Phil Dawson didn’t contribute to the special team woes the Arizona Cardinals experienced in 2016, he understands the pressure cooker he’s entering as the team’s new kicker.
“You feel it,” Dawson told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona Sports Station on Thursday. “There’s pressure on every kick. As a student and wanting to know what’s going on, I understand the context of what I am walking into.”
The Cardinals 7-8-1 in 2016 included failed game-winning field goal attempts by Chandler Catanzaro in a 23-21 loss to the New England Patriots and a 6-6 tie against the Seattle Seahawks.
For the year, Catanzaro hit 21-of-28 field goals and converted 43-of-47 extra points.
It’s a similar situation Dawson said he faced when he arrived in San Francisco just before the 2013 season. He replaced long-time kicker David Akers after Akers had an off year where he made just 29-of-42 field goal attempts.
“I can remember walking into that context and people going, ‘Oh great here’s another old guy who’s been good for a while. I can’t wait to see him fall apart,’” Dawson said. “So that’s been a very real thing and I had to work through it. But rather than run from it and pretend that it’s not there, I just embrace it and go to work and see what works out.”
The 42-year-old Dawson signed with the Cardinals in March after spending the last four seasons with the 49ers. In 2016 he completed 33-of-34 extra point attempts and hit 18 of 21 field goal attempts.
This will be Dawson’s 19th season in the NFL after spending the first 14 years with the Cleveland Browns before spending the last four with the 49ers. For his career Dawson has hit 404-of-478 of his field goal attempts. Since the NFL pushed back the extra-point before the 2015 season, Dawson has hit 53-of-55 point after attempts.
“I don’t know,” Dawson said after being asked why he has been so successful in his career. “People have been in search for some real sexy answer and I don’t have it. I go to work each and every day. It will be a Tuesday in February and I’m just getting off a season and I’m nowhere close to starting another one and I’ll be working out and I’ll ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But you just go to work and each and every day. You don’t take one day for granted. Everyday has a purpose and you put your chin down, elbows up and you go to work and before you know it, here you are.”