The Cardinals signed veteran Phil Dawson to replace Chandler Catanzaro, who contributed to a couple of Arizona losses in 2016.
The signing of veteran Phil Dawson should pay dividends. The Cardinals finished with a 7-8-1 record in 2016. If a few kicks go their way, they may have made the playoffs, and possibly the NFC West title. Even though kickers are often an afterthought, they contribute directly to the final score. A good kicker will get you 2-3 wins per year.
If a kicker is directly responsible for 2-3 losses in a season, then you will need to make some changes. Chandler Catanzaro was the Arizona kicker last season, and he had some backbreaking misses that cost the Cardinals a few wins.
Important missed field goals:
Game 1 vs. Patriots – Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds to play. The Cardinals were down 23-21. Final score: Patriots 23 Cardinals 21.
You can say that it is only one game, but this loss really set the tone for the season. Instead of feeling good about yourself after an opening night win at home, you have to pick yourself up after a tough loss.
Game 7 vs. Seahawks – Catanzaro missed two field goals, including a 24 yd attempt with 3:26 in OT with the game tied 6-6. The Seahawks then drove the ball into field goal range, and Steven Hauschka missed a 28-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in overtime. Final score: Tie game Cardinals 6 Seahawks 6.
You can make the argument that the Seattle playcalling would have been different if they were down three points. They possibly could have tied the game at 9, but Catanzaro still should have made a 24 yd field goal attempt. With a win against the Patriots, the Cardinals would have been 4-2, not 3-3 heading not the Seattle game. A win here and they are 5-2, not 3-3-1.
Game 13 vs. Dolphins – Catanzaro missed one FG and two extra point attempts. One was blocked and returned for a Miami 2-point conversion. Final score: Dolphins 26 Cardinals 23.
Game 14 vs. Saints – Catanzaro missed one FG and an extra point attempt. This still would have been a loss, had he made the FG and the extra point attempt. Final score: Saints 48 Cardinals 41.
If the Cardinals win two of these four, the season has a different narrative. Catanzaro had a 75% field goal percentage in 2016. This was after posting 87.9% in 2014, and 90.3% in 2015.
Cardinals Upgrade Kicking Game With Phil Dawson
Veteran Phil Dawson will handle the kicking duties this season. He had an 85.7 field goal percentage in 2016, and has a career 84.5 field goal percentage. The Cardinals are counting on Dawson to make the timely kick at the end of games.
They say football is a game of inches. It is also a game of made or missed field goals.