There are some dedicated Tennessee Titans fans that are watching the punter battle closely, but there is a large portion of the fan base that doesn’t really care about that.
Brett Kern’s career as the Tennessee Titans’ punter spans three decades, but there are reasons why fans should be concerned about his future. Not only is Kern more expensive than the average punter, he had gone his entire career without missing a game until 2020 but he has now missed three games in back-to-back seasons.
With age, cost, and injuries all against him, it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that the Tennessee Titans decided to bring in real competition for him this offseason.
Enter Ryan Stonehouse, the man with the cannon for a leg.
In college, Stonehouse set the record for career average on punting yards (minimum of 125 punts) with 47.8 yards per punt, which is obviously incredible. He clearly brought that leg strength with him as we saw when he almost hit the moon on this 68-yard punt.
Not only is the distance impressive, but you will notice that the returner actually fumbles the punt out of the back of the endzone. That is something that happens a lot and those difficult punts from Stonehouse are the only thing that has made Kyle Philips seem human in practice.
So, what does that have to do with the Tennessee Titans’ offense?
Why the Tennessee Titans could take more risks with Stonehouse
While Stonehouse has a cannon for a leg, he hasn’t done a great job getting punts to land and stop their momentum before they get carried out of the endzone. Now, that isn’t something that he struggled with in college, in fact, his ratio of punts downed inside the 20-yard line to touchbacks is 3:1.
However, very few punters in the NFL can nail their placement like Brett Kern. If an offensive drive stalled on the 50-yard line, Kern could consistently coffin corner a punt so that the other offense would be forced to go 90+ yards if they wanted to get into the endzone.
While that is a great skill, it is also the root of this argument. You can’t trust Stonehouse to do that yet because you haven’t seen him nail a punt like that so far in his NFL career, so what do you do if it is 4th and 1 at the 50-yard line?
Do you think Mike Vrabel would roll the dice and try to still get that coffin corner? Or would he see the odds of it rolling through the back of the endzone and think that the benefits don’t outweigh the risks?
If you can’t trust your punter to make that punt, why not hand the ball to Derrick Henry, fake it with Ryan Tannehill, or throw it to someone like Philips or Austin Hooper?
So the fact that you can count on him to boom a 70-yard punt makes him enticing to coaches, but the fact that we haven’t seen him perfect his placement in the NFL means that we could see more aggressive 4th and short attempts.
Time will tell, but if the Titans make this decision it will be good news to fans who have been wanting this team to be more aggressive in the past.