The Tennessee Titan special teams neither gave up a big play or created one of their own on Monday night. However, a consistent and disciplined effort, as basic as that is, is sometime more than enough. Here’s a quick review of the Titan’s Week 6 performance on special teams, including unit grades and selections of the “Titan” and “Terrible” players of the week.
Kick and Punt Coverage Teams – B+
The Titan coverage team kept Deji Karim (7 kick returns, 24.0 yards per return) and Mike Thomas (2 punt returns, 0 yards), both explosive returners, in check all night. This left the Jacksonville Jaguars with starting field positions at their own 35 yard line or worse all night. The punt coverage team also managed to down a punt inside the Jaguar 10 yard line.
Kick and Punt Return Teams – B+
With the Jaguars only scoring 3 points, Marc Mariani (2 kick returns, 25.0 yards per return) was only given 2 kick return opportunities. Neither resulted in a long return, but neither resulted in field position inside the Titan 20. Same story for punt returns, Mariani (1 punt return, 9 yards) fair caught 2 punts, but never allowed the Titans to be backed up inside their own 10.
Kicker and Punter – B+
Rob Bironas pumped in 4 field goals (26, 33, 33, 36 yards), but each were chip shots. Still, anytime the Titan kicker contributes half of the scoring for the game (15 points, 4 FGs, 3 XPs) is a solid effort. Brett Kern was seldom called upon, but did manage 2 good punts (47 and 51 yards) and pinned the Jaguars on their own 6 yard line thanks to his coverage team.
Titan Player of the Week:
Alan Lowry (Special Teams Coach) – The author of the Music City Miracle does not get nearly enough credit for the job he has done in coaching and preparing the Titan special team unit in each of the last 13 years. Say what you want about Jeff Fisher, but it cannot be refuted that he has assembled one of the best and most consistent coaching staffs for almost 2 decades.
Terrible Players of the Week:
Patrick Bailey and Lavelle Hawkins – This is really just nick-picking, but it was the only noticeable miscue of the evening. One of the most important disciplines on kick coverage (other than maintaining your lane) is wrapping up the returner. During one of Karim’s longer returns, Hawkins and Bailey both stopped Karim, but neither extended their arms to wrap him up. He bounced outside, only gaining another 7-10 yards, but it could have been much worse.
Overall Special Teams Grade – B+
B+ is for benchmark. The Titan offense and defense are both solid units this season, especially when given the gift of good field position. If the worst effort the Titan special team unit puts forward for the rest of the year looks like this, the Titans will find themselves battling for the division title in the AFC South. And getting back to the basics could get the Titans back in the playoffs.