Cleveland Browns: Weather leads the storylines in Week 16 vs. Saints

Browns, Deshaun Watson. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Browns, Deshaun Watson. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Cade York, Cleveland Browns
Cade York, Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Browns storyline No. 1: How will Cade York respond?

Rookie kicker Cade York made the kick of his career when he hit the game-winner in the Browns’ season opener against the Carolina Panthers. That not only put pressure on the youngster to continue to make kicks but also probably set up some unrealistic expectations that weren’t quite ready for York to take on — and he’s struggled mightily since.

In last week’s game against the Ravens, York again missed two field goals. He also made a couple of field goals in the team’s 13-3 win. However, York has been inconsistent, to say the least, this season. It has never found a rhythm that has given the team or its fans confidence that he’s going to hit the next one.

The weather will be downright awful on Saturday with high winds and extremely cold temperatures. When the Browns have opportunities to kick extra points or field goals will they actually do that, or will Stefanski be hesitant to send out the kicker? We may see many more fourth-down plays where Cleveland goes for it even though they might be in field goal range.

Kicking, like in many other sports, comes down to the mental side of things. York may well suggest that he is onto the next kick and that these struggles aren’t a big deal, but they really are because they keep happening. Continually having field goals missed or blocked can’t sit well in the young mind of York. On Saturday, unless they are chip-shot field goals within 25 or 30 yards, I suspect that coach Stefanski will go for it.

Wind and cold weather on the shores of Lake Erie make kicking it difficult at FirstEnergy — so we probably should be patient. York will get another season to get improve but he’ll need to be better. If we see York kicking anything on Saturday, we’ll all be holding our collective breaths in hopes that the ball sails through the uprights.