Special teams has unfortunately been the topic of discussion for a large portion of the nine games the Tennessee Titans have played this season. It is rarely a good thing when special teams is at the forefront of a discussion 10 weeks into the NFL season, or any week for that matter.
Special teams is what most consider to be the third phase of any football team. It is a unit that fans demand execution from. No matter the pressure, whether it be the field goal unit or the kick coverage team, great football teams should not have to worry about snafus in this phase of football.
The kicking game has plagued the Titans for nearly two years now. After cycling through four kickers in 2019, General Manager Jon Robinson and Head Coach Mike Vrabel held a tryout at the kicker position in the offseason, with Stephen Gostkowski securing the job. Gostkowski’s struggles in 2020 have been well documented.
The former Patriots placekicker, who happens to have an exceptional history of success, has underperformed in 2020, connecting on just 12 of his 20 field goal attempts this season while missing critical kicks in crunch time. His most notable failure was a game-tying attempt against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Seven.
Gostkowski is converting on a career-low 60 percent on his field goal tries this season. But Titans fans have become all too familiar with the 36-year-old’s shortcomings as he once again sailed a makeable 44-yard try wide right in Thursday night’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Vrabel on Gostkowski: We have to evaluate everything that we do #Titans
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) November 13, 2020
The Titans can, and surely will, continue to search for answers at the kicker position, but one can’t help to wonder what could have been had the Titans pulled the trigger on Rodrigo Blankenship, an undrafted free agent that signed with the Colts and now leads the NFL in scoring. At such a critical position, Robinson failed to adequately address one of the most glaring needs the Titans have at any position on their roster.
Is Gostkowski’s time in Tennessee over? It is possible that the Titans will be rolling out a new kicker in a crucial Week 11 showdown against the Baltimore Ravens. On Tuesday, the Titans signed Giorgio Tavecchio, most recently of the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats, who also has experience kicking in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) November 10, 2020
Tavecchio hasn’t kicked in the NFL since 2018, but his big leg and late-game composure has earned him the nickname “Italian Ice” which, by my standards, rocks.
In Tavecchio’s last game in the NFL, “Italian Ice” connected on all five of his field-goal attempts, including two from beyond 50 yards in an impressive 2018 showing with the Falcons.
In the offseason, the team signed Tucker McCann, who was a UDFA out of Missouri, to back up Gostkowski. McCann mysteriously appeared on the injury list last week with an undisclosed ailment.
With Gostkowski on most Titans fans’ hot seats, why not try a little “Italian Ice” to cool things down.
Featured image courtesy of Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports