Vrabel On Kicking Issues: Maybe It's Me

Titans coach stresses, though, that he does not meddle with placekickers' mechanics or mindset.
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Mike Vrabel has started to wonder if he is the problem.

In his three seasons as Tennessee Titans head coach, six different kickers have combined to miss 22 field goal attempts. That is nearly as many misses as the franchise had in the six full seasons before Vrabel’s arrival.

So, when asked whether or not the franchise plans to use one of its 2021 draft picks on a kicker during a virtual season-ticket holder event Thursday evening, the man in charge admitted to a bit of personal insecurity at this point.

“I don’t know if it’s me,” Vrabel said. “Maybe it is, I don’t know. But their job is to make them. And I can’t tell them how to kick them straight. I can just see if they go straight or go through. We have had some blocked.

“… The only way that I can evaluate kickers is if they make them. And we have got to make more kicks.”

The situation was at its worst in 2019 when four different players combined to go 8-for-18. Ryan Succop, one of the most accurate Titans kickers ever prior to that year, made just one of six in between two stints on injured reserve and was released after the season. Succop recently celebrated a Super Bowl victory as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that signed him just prior to the start of the regular season.

Things were better in 2020 with the addition of veteran Stephen Gostkowski. He made game-winning field goals in each of his first three games with Tennessee and was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September. Ultimately, though, Gostkowski missed a career-high eight tries, and his 69.2 success rate was well below the success rate he enjoyed before he signed with the Titans (87.4 percent).

Gostkowski, who recently turned 37, is scheduled to be a free agent next month and has not made it known whether or not he would like to play in 2021, which would be his 16th NFL season.

Vrabel ultimately did not say that the team would or would not draft a kicker, but he made it clear that Gostkowski won’t just be handed job again, provided he wants to come back and the team offers him another contract.

“We feel like we’re going to have to address that position and see what Stephen’s going to do – his contract’s up – and what he wants to do,” Vrabel said. “But we’re going to have to have guys in here that have [a] competition and that we can find somebody that can make them.”