Just how much did kicker Cairo Santos’ desire to attempt a fourth field goal sway Mike Vrabel’s decision on Sunday?
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel asked his struggling kicker, Cairo Santos, if he wanted to go out and attempt a fourth field goal in the fourth quarter of the Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills after the kicker had missed the previous three.
Santos had already missed two — one of which was from 50 yards out — and had a third blocked when the Titans were trailing 14-7 and in desperate need of a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Despite the situation and his kicker’s struggles, Vrabel went against all logic and indeed went for the 53-yard field goal. He stated after the game he had confidence in his kicker and didn’t want to abandon him because he was having a rough day.
What’s worse is that Vrabel might have had his decision swayed by the obvious answer a kicker would give when being asked if he’d like to attempt a kick.
According to Paul Kuharsky, when the Titans head coach asked Santos if he wanted to go out for another kick of 50-plus yards, Santos of course said yes — and the result ended up being disastrous.
"“(Vrabel) asked me if I wanted this and I said ‘Yes sir.’ He let me kick it. I don’t shy away from problems, still have my confidence and I am shocked, very shocked right now… Have not missed four kicks even in practice in years.”"
While I can certainly appreciate Vrabel’s loyalty in his players, this was not the time. Vrabel needed to take the decision out of his player’s hands and make it on his own, without any input. Clearly he didn’t do that here.
Santos was obviously having issues after shanking one field goal earlier, and the situation, which was fourth-and-4 at the Bills’ 36-yard line late in the fourth quarter, called for the Titans do to for it with the offense having struggled mightily all game just to get that close to scoring a touchdown.
In fact, the Titans’ only score was aided by a Kevin Byard interception or else this team might have been shut out.
No matter how bad they might struggle, a player usually isn’t going to shy away from getting another opportunity to make things right. That’s why the coach has to take that decision out of the player’s hands, and Vrabel didn’t do that here.