I’ve already selected an offensive MVP (Matt Hasselbeck) and a defensive MVP (Cortland Finnegan), so now it’s time to move on to the third phase of the game and select a special teams MVP. And with all due respect to punter Brett Kern, who set a franchsie record by averaging 39.4 net yards per punt this year, Rob Bironas is an easy choice as the 2011 Tennessee Titans special teams MVP.
There was a fair bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the preseason about Bironas’s apparent possible struggles. I was much more sanguine in my expectations of him, and thought that even if he did have a more inconsistent season than he did in the past, he was still among the league’s better kickers. Well, as it happened, he didn’t have that inconsistent season.
In fact, Bironas had an exceptional season; by Football Outsiders numbers, his best as a kicker. He made all of his extra points, for the sixth season in a row, and made 29 of 32 field goals, with one of his misses coming from 67 yards away. His numbers weren’t inflated by a lot of short makes either, as the Titans were pretty proficient at converting red zone possessions into touchdowns. The majority of his attempts (17 of 32) came from 40 yards and beyond, where kicking a field goal normally becomes a risky proposition, yet he only missed two of those, including that 67 yard attempt that would’ve broken the existing record by four yards.
In addition to his fine work on field goals, Bironas also had another good year as a kickoff man. He had a touchback on 56% of his kickoffs, good for eighth in the league, ranking him ahead of both David Akers and Sebastian Janikowski, the other kickers who’ve earned league-wide acclaim, and helped the Titans be an above-average kickoff team for the first time in three seasons.
For that sort of combined excellent, Rob Bironas is my choice as 2011 Tennessee Titans special teams most valuable player. Just don’t be too mad if he finally has an inconsistent field goal season next year, ok?