Think the New England Patriots had kicker issues this season? Those were nothing compared to what’s gone on down in Tennessee.
The Titans, New England’s opponent in Saturday night’s wild-card round playoff game at Gillette Stadium, converted just eight field-goal attempts during the regular season, the fewest by any team since the expansion Cleveland Browns in 1999.
That’s right, eight. An average of one every two games.
Seven teams made 30 field goals or more this season. All but four made at least 20.
Granted, with an offense that’s been the NFL’s best in red-zone and goal-to-go situations while also scoring 11 touchdowns of 40-plus yards, the Titans rarely have needed to settle for three points. Only the New York Giants attempted fewer field goals than Tennessee’s 18. But when they have, they’ve been monumentally inconsistent.
Ryan Succop, Cairo Santos and Cody Parkey combined to convert just 44.4 percent of their field-goal tries this season, the worst single-season mark in the NFL since 1983. It had been 19 years since any team even posted a field-goal conversion rate below 60 percent. The 31st-ranked team this season converted 67.9 percent.
Tennessee’s current kicker, Greg Joseph, who joined the team last month after Succop landed on injured reserve, hasn’t attempted a field goal since the preseason, though he was perfect on nine extra points during his first two games as a Titan.
If the Patriots’ top-ranked defense — which also ranks fourth in the red zone and first on third down — can keep Ryan Tannehill and Co. from piling up touchdowns, the Titans’ lack of certainty at the kicker position could prove problematic, especially with Saturday’s forecast calling for rain and possible snow in the Foxboro, Mass. area.
New England also has cycled through four kickers this season but seems to have found a reliable one in veteran Nick Folk, who’s 7-for-8 on field-goal attempts and 9-for-9 on extra points since returning to the team following his appendectomy. His lone miss was blocked.