After a disastrous day from a special teams standpoint, the Titans will be making a few third phase adjustments. Special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman has been fired, head coach Mike Vrabel announced on Monday.
Tom Quinn will take over for Aukerman, as noted by ESPN’s Turron Davenport. The latter had been in place since 2018, having assumed the coordinator role after serving as an assistant the year prior. This had been Aukerman’s second stint with the Titans, after he first worked with the team as an assistant ST coordinator from 2013-15.
The 47-year-old made his NFL coaching debut in 2010 when he joined the Broncos as a defensive assistant. He held the same title one year later with the Jaguars, and it was in 2012 that he first began working as a special teams staffer. After his first Titans stint, Aukerman spent one year as the Chargers’ special teams coordinator before returning to Nashville.
The Titans rank ninth in the league in special teams DVOA in 2023, but the team’s Week 13 loss included multiple punts being blocked. On the second such occasion, punter Ryan Stonehouse was injured, and the play has proven to be the final one of the year for him. Stonehouse will undergo season-ending surgery, Vrabel said, via Davenport.
The 24-year-old proved to be a valuable addition last season, when he led the league in gross punting yards (4,779) and average (53.1 yards per punt). Stonehouse had matched the latter figure exactly during his 12 games this season, so his loss will be acutely felt for the remainder of the campaign. A new punter (and holder) will be needed to close out the year.
Quinn has considerable experience as a ST coordinator at the NFL level. He served in that role with the Giants from 2007-17, then remained in New York through 2021 as an assistant. The 55-year-old was out of coaching last year before joining Tennessee’s staff this past offseason. He will look to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s poor showing as the 4-8 Titans finish a disappointing campaign.
“There’s no real precedent to anything – you try to get a feel for what’s best and what’s needed,” Vrabel said when speaking about the move (video link via team reporter Jim Wyatt). “And whether we’ve done something in the past, there’s times we haven’t run a certain coverage or we haven’t run certain plays. And these decisions are about timing and feel. So, that’s the decision that was made.”