BEREA, Ohio — When Cade York hit the 58-yard game winning field goal Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, he hit a high earlier than perhaps he even anticipated. It was the highlight of his season, and that he won't question.
"Yeah, I don't think you can argue otherwise," York confessed.
After that moment, York's season was a bit of a rollercoaster. He had solid games where he hit all of his kicks, and others where he struggled, at one point missing two fields in a game for the first time in his kicking career. It was also the first time in his career he was dealing with playing in the climate that is the AFC North.
York, however, wouldn't use that as an excuse.
"I won't ever say that any of the kicks were missed because of the weather, because any kick I went out there for should have gone through," York said. "There were a couple that maybe if the wind wasn't there it would have through, but we don't play indoors so it's something we have to deal with it. I think it's honestly kind of freeing knowing that the wind is not something that can really stop me. I just got to lock back in and deal with it better next year."
One of the teammates York might be closest to, punter Corey Bojorquez, knows firsthand the challenge kicking along the shores of Lake Erie presents because it was a learning curve from his as well—and he's had his fair share of playing in harsh conditions.
"It's a hard place to kick. And I've been some rough places and this is towards the top. But he's got the mental side down, and just getting what I know he can do done on the field, he's going to be just fine," Bojorquez said.
That mental part of the game has been the biggest challenge for York. He's got the leg power and the talent—but his rookie year ended up being more about learning to stick to what he knows and not try to do too much while still treating every kick, even the simple 30-yarders, like they're game winning 58-yard attempts.
York believes a lot of his struggles this season were caused by that failing to heed to that approach.
"It's not like my technique's gone to crap. It's really I'm going out there and my headspace is not right and it's not a lack of confidence to try anything like that," York said. "It's really just go out there and the mental focus is not what it needs to be, and that's going to be my main focus point going forward is just making sure, trying to recreate that locked-in-ness that I have in big moments for every kick."
In the final weeks of the season, the young kicker did have glimpses of the success taking that approach can have on him. In the final three weeks, York was 2/2 in his field goal attempts and 4/4 in his extra point attempts, even during the coldest regular season game in franchise history that saw wind gusts of 40 mph.
He credits taking the aforementioned approach.
"The last three weeks I stopped doing anything technique. I didn't work on anything like that. I literally just before every kick, the only thing I was thinking about was the mental cadence and that kind of stuff and being hyper focused and stuff like that," York explained.
Taking that lesson into the 2023 season will be a point of emphasis for York. And while he will get to work soon this offseason with his longtime personal kicking coach Morgan Longberry—who he's worked with since high school and the Browns had been bringing up every other week—he won't change his game too much. Instead, he'll focus on consistency in his approach and his technique, planning to complement that with the consistency of the special teams core returning next season.
"Having [longsnapper] Charley [Hughlett] and Corey, our battery has been, ever since training camp moving into the season, it's been great. And having guys so stable as them, makes it much easier for me to be consistent at what I do. So that's that's awesome," York said.
For Bojorquez, consistency within their unit is something he believes could turn into a dominant weapon for the Browns.
"You look at what the Ravens had for 10 years with their three specialists, and they were some of the best in the league. So I think the more that we can keep that going here, there's no reason why we can't have as much, if not more success than they did," Bojorquez said.
That starts with York, who is excited to take these lessons learned from his rookie year and convert them into said consistency all throughout his second year in the NFL.
"Knowing myself I'm never going to have issues with lack of confidence. You've got to walk that borderline of cocky and confident. So I'm not too worried about that. And it's all about the next kick," York said. "So, yes, this season has ups and downs and I'm going to try to be more even keeled going forward. And it's annoying that I didn't heed the lesson I learned from my freshman year of college. But lesson learned and I'm moving forward."
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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