Skip to main content

Titans fire special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman after loss to Colts

Two special teams disasters in one game has cost the Titans' coordinator his job.

Tennessee's special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman has been relieved of his duties, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel announced Monday. Tom Quinn, special teams assistant with the Titans, will take over in Aukerman's place.

"I had a conversation with Craig, and (we're) going to move on and make a change there on our leadership on the special teams unit," Vrabel said, via the team's official website. "I am excited about the possibility of Tom Quinn leading that group. Tom is going to take over those duties. He brings a lot of experience and knowledge, he's a great teacher. So, hopefully we'll be able to continue the stuff that we've done well, which there have been plenty of things that we've done well, and hopefully eliminate those mistakes that cost you.

"I want to thank Craig for what he has done for us, certainly in the time that I've been here, but felt like this was the best thing for the team and for the players moving forward."

The firing comes on the heels of a nightmarish afternoon in which Tennessee had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, then had another punt result in a fumble and an injury to the strong-legged Ryan Stonehouse. The two turnovers produced nine points for Indianapolis in the Colts' comeback win, and forced the Titans to turn to veteran kicker Nick Folk to handle punting duties. Backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill replaced Stonehouse as the team's holder on the field goal unit, leading to Folk's missed PAT, which contributed to the game's progression into overtime and Tennessee's eventual defeat.

The Titans were clinging to a one-point lead late in the third quarter when the special teams ship ran aground. Indianapolis overloaded its punt block unit to the right side, freeing safety Nick Cross on a direct path toward Stonehouse. Cross blocked Stonehouse's punt, and linebacker Grant Stuard scooped up the loose ball, returning it 18 yards for a game-changing touchdown.

On Tennessee's next punt attempt, the Colts ran gunner Tony Brown in from a wide position just before the snap, perfectly timing Brown's surprise rush attempt off the right edge. With tight end Josh Whyle squeezing down to prevent another rusher from finding a free path to Stonehouse, Brown had an open path off the edge to the punter, colliding with him just as he was attempting to kick the ball and injuring Stonehouse in the process.

Linebacker Segun Olubi recovered the loose football, giving the Colts possession at Tennessee's 7-yard line. Indianapolis eventually settled for a field goal, taking a six-point lead the Titans would erase with a Will Levis touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins.

Given the chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Folk missed the extra point attempted with Tannehill as the replacement holder. As the ball hooked left, Tannehill rose from a knee and immediately took the blame for the failed attempt, appearing to tell Folk, "that's my fault."

In total, if the special teams blunders didn't outright cost Tennessee the game, they certainly contributed to the defeat. And in a season that has seen the Titans trudge to a 4-8 record, such a disaster couldn't pass without repercussion.

The Titans also watched their early lead melt away because their offense fell into a rut, a direct result of Derrick Henry's late-game departure due to injury. After reportedly being evaluated for a concussion in the second half of the contest, Henry is not in concussion protocol, Vrabel clarified Monday.

Tennessee will attempt to bounce back from the heartbreaking loss to the division-rival Colts this weekend against a red-hot Dolphins team that has won three straight.

Related Content