NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans are giving kicker Stephen Gostkowski a second chance following his disastrous performance in Week One, and he deserves it.
Gostkowski, who the Titans signed on Sept. 3, missed four kicks—three field goals and one PAT—in the Titans’ season-opening win against Denver.
The Titans have hope, however, that he can turn things around in Week Two and beyond.
THINGS TO FIX
My takeaway from listening to Aukerman this morning: the Gostkowski situation isn’t as simple as “well, he stinks now.” There are tangible problems from Monday night, potentially due to rust, that they’re working out. https://t.co/DT5OcEPsZb
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) September 17, 2020
One of the reasons the Titans have that hope is that some of Gostkowski’s failures on Monday night were due to errors with technique.
That means, heading into this week of practice, Gostkowski had tangible issues to fix.
“There were, obviously, correctible things that we can end up doing a little better,” Titans special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman said.
“It is probably knocking the rust off a little bit.”
A lot of fans who were, understandably, frustrated with Gostkowski’s opening week performance wanted to chalk the problems up to the 36-year-old being “washed” or simply not good anymore.
That’s not what’s happening, though.
Gostkowski’s kicks had plenty of distance, and they were hardly hooking or moving at all. He was just off the mark, albeit a shocking number of times.
Unlike issues brought on by aging, that is a potentially fixable problem.
HE’S BEEN THERE BEFORE
Vrabel on Gostkowski: We all have a job to do, and I’m confident that will get corrected. It’s not all one guy.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) September 15, 2020
Also working in Gostkowski’s favor as he looks to rebound is the fact that he’s a veteran with 14 years of NFL experience.
While he’s never had a game quite as bad as Monday’s, he has made mistakes before. He’s missed his share of kicks.
“Steve’s a pro. He’s missed kicks before,” head coach Mike Vrabel said.
It would be different if the kicker who missed four kicks for the Titans was a rookie or someone with limited success and experience.
That was the situation the Titans found themselves in at the beginning of the 2019 season, when they released kicker Cairo Santos after he missed four kicks in a loss to the Bills.
Santos had only been kicking in the NFL since 2014 and had been on four teams in two years before joining the Titans.
Gostkowski, on the other hand, was a stalwart for the New England Patriots for the 14 years he spent with them. He’s a three-time Super Bowl champion, and he entered Monday’s game as the fifth-most accurate kicker in NFL history.
His pedigree should earn him some benefit of the doubt.
It was just one game, after all, and he came through when it mattered most, hitting a game-winning 25-yard FG with 17 seconds left.
Moving forward, the Titans should keep Gostkowski on a tight leash, and a third chance would probably be out of the conversation. He deserves a second one, though.
“We anticipate that he’ll come back and he’ll be better and up to the expectations that he has for himself and that we have for him from the team,” Vrabel said.
“You practice, you come back, and you try to learn from those experiences. Steve has done this for a long time, and he’ll do that.”
Cover image: Isaiah J. Downing / USA Today