Cleveland Browns: Chase McLaughlin may permanently nail down kicking job

Chase McLaughlin acts like he wants to be the Cleveland Browns permanent placekicker.

Chase McLaughlin of the Cleveland Browns may soon be known as The Scottish Nailer after nailing a prodigious 57-yard field goal under duress. Cleveland prides itself on extending opportunities to all races and ethnic groups.

Unless of course, you want to kick a football, in which case you have to be Scottish. Jamie Gillan is Cleveland’s converted rugby player turned punter, known as The Scottish Hammer. Gillan, of course, was born in Scotland, while McLaughlin is a Texan, but carries the Scottish surname of his ancestors.

McLaughlin became the placekicker kind of by accident, because Cody Parkey was injured, although McLaughlin had been impressive on the practice squad and might have won out even if Parkey had stayed healthy. McLaughlin is good, and he has game experience in the NFL. Hence he might just stay.

However, placekicking — as well as punting — are fickle professions. One bad kick or even one bad game and McLaughlin could be history. So might The Scottish Hammer, especially since he already had a bad turnover this season. However, the Browns really do like the Hammer, and they are learning that there is a lot to like about the Nailer also.

57 yards ties for the third-longest field goal on the Browns all-time list. Steve Cox holds the record with a 60-yarder, and he also has a 58-yarder. Don Cockroft also has a 57-yarder, and so does Phil Dawson. That’s not bad company.

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At the time he knocked his kick through the uprights, the outcome of the game was still in doubt, as Chicago had somehow taken a 3-0 lead. Cleveland had managed to gag a few times on fourth and one, so this time they elected to go for the field goal. McLaughlin had plenty of distance and accuracy, so he may have earned himself another shot should the occasion arise. For the day, McLaughlin was four for four on field goals, and he also converted two extra points.

As nice as his performance was, he was overshadowed in the AFC North by Justin Tucker, who later on the same afternoon set a new NFL record with a 66-yarder versus the Detroit Lions. Such is life in the NFL. No highlight reels for McLaughlin’s 57-yarder, not when someone else is establishing a new NFL record to win the game.

McLaughlin is only 25 years old, from Cypress Texas. He played his college ball at the University of Illinois. He was named Bakken-Andersen Big Ten Kicker of the Year, and also won Associated Press All-Big Ten honors, Pro Football Focus All-Big Ten First-Team. Those are rather impressive credentials.

After going undrafted in 2019, he managed to get himself cut from NFL teams seven times, including the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings (twice), Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets. Amazingly, he has been in 15 NFL games with five NFL teams, and now three more games with the Browns. Overall, he has 27 field goals in 33 attempts, an 81.8% average, and 18 kickoffs with 8 touchbacks or 44%. He has made 40 of 41 extra points attempts. That’s right around the NFL average.

According to a blurb put out by the 49ers in his rookie year, Chase likes classical music, which is something he has liked since playing cello in middle school. He often listens to classical music to relax before games and has learned to play several instruments as a hobby.

“When I got to freshman year of college, I thought, ‘Hey, I can read sheet music.’ So, I taught myself to play piano. And I taught myself to play guitar. My most recent endeavor is banjo. I can play a few tunes.”

Playing banjo is great, because Americans tell jokes about banjo players, while over in Scottland, they use the same jokes about bagpipe players. For example, “What’s the difference between a bagpipe and a trampoline (banjo)?” Answer: You take off your shoes when you jump on a trampoline.

Or, “What do they mean when they say a bagpiper (banjo player) has perfect pitch?”
Answer: He can throw his bagpipes (banjo) into the middle of a pond and not hit any ducks.

Or, “If you drop a set of bagpipes (a banjo) and a bowling ball off a tall building, which will hit the ground first?” Answer: Who cares?

You see? This is a truly cross-cultural experience for our team!  Here’s hoping that the Scottish kids maintain control of the kicking game for a long time to come.

Welcome home to the Dawg Pound, Mr. McLaughlin.