My preferred metric for evaluating special teams play, and not just because I write for them, is Football Outsiders' ratings. That's for the same basic reason I wrote yesterday's post on the pass rush: context matters. Take, for instance, field goals. NFL kickers as a whole hit roughly 90% of their kicks from inside of 40 or so yards. Kicks attempted in indoor stadiums and in warm weather are made more frequently than kicks in cold weather. Players like Mike Vanderjagt and Nate Kaeding put up many seasons with good accuracy rates where they weren't actually that great thanks to not attempting long kicks and playing their home games in generally very favorable conditions.
I'm pleased to report, then, that Rob Bironas going 29 for 32 on field goal attempts last year, plus his 34-34 on extra points, was the second-most valuable kicking performance in the NFL last year. He was a very good 9-10 on attempts from 40-49 yards and an even better 6 of 7 from 50 yards and beyond, with his only miss there coming on what would have been a record-setting 67 yard try. As I wrote last preseason, almost all kickers have bouts of inconsistency, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Bironas finally have a bit of a down season.
As superlative as Bironas has been on field goal attempts, his record on kickoffs has been much more mixed the last couple seasons. In contrast to his strong and accurate leg on field goals, his kickoff distance was a little below-average last season after a couple seasons where he ranked narrowly above average. For whatever reason, Bironas doesn't seem to be getting the same kickoff distance he was earlier in his career. Bironas is entering the final year of his current contract this year; I'd expect the Titans to franchise him barring a massive dropoff in his leg strength this year.