The Jekyll and Hyde routine is apparently not limited to the Tennessee Titan offense. The Titan special teams sampled each end of the spectrum against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Here’s a quick review of the Titans Week 4 performance on special teams, including unit grades and selections of the “Titan” and “Terrible” player of the week.
One of the worst mistakes a coverage team can make is to allow a big kickoff return immediately following a long touchdown play from the offense (or in this case special teams). For instance, allowing a 65 yard return by Demaryius Thomas as a chaser to Marc Mariani’s possibly game-changing touchdown return. Thomas had quite the day returning kicks, averaging 36.0 yards a return, almost 5 yards more per return than Mariani.
Kick and Punt Return Teams – D
Although, the return team sprung Mariani for a 98 yard touchdown return in the 3rd quarter, they also failed to protect him or call him off and field the pooch kickoff from Matt Prater at the end of this tragedy. Mariani will take more of the blame for that play than he deserves. Ahmard Hall knows better and needs to take responsibility, instead of allowing the rookie to become the goat.
Kicker and Punter – C-
Rob Bironas kicked 2 long field goals (46 and 55 yards), while Brett Kern boomed a 60 yard punt that left Eddie Royal with little time to do anything. However, Bironas also missed a field goal (35 yards) and Kern also shanked a punt (28 yards). While Kern’s mistake was covered with a stand by the defense, Bironas’ error cost the Titans valuable points.
Titan Player of the Week: Marc Mariani – Not since the days of Adam “Pacman” Jones, have the Titans enjoyed a home-run threat in their return game. Hopefully, Mariani will only make it rain on the field.
Terrible Player of the Week: Rob Bironas – Missing 30 yard field goals is not acceptable. Wind should never play a factor for a kicker of his caliber inside of 40 yards, especially at LP Field.
Overall Special Teams Grade – D+
In the two losses this year, the Titan special teams has 2 fumbles (0 turnovers in wins), a missed field goal (0 misses in wins), and an average of 44 yards allowed per kickoff return (22 yard return average in wins). This unit has also recovered an onside kick, executed a 50+ field goal with time expiring before halftime, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. A little less Jekyll and a little more Hyde could help this young and scrappy Titan team steal some close games.