Bills Reign Supreme in Special Teams Play

According the to the Dallas Morning News, the Buffalo Bills are once again reigning special teams champions. The Morning News puts out a prestigious special teams ranking point system which is highly regarded – almost considered "official" by most of the special teams coaches in the league.

The system assigns points from 1 to 32 in 22 categories, and the club with the lowest total score wins.

While the Bills scored 5 fewer special teams touchdowns from the previous season, the Bills actually finished with a better score than they did in 2004. In 2005, the Bills were No. 1 with 217 points, which was 41.5 better than the New York Giants. The rest of the top ten were (in order) Houston, Miami, Tennessee, Cleveland, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Carolina, and Washington.

Terrence McGee finished the year with an astounding 30.2 average to go along with a 99-yard return for a touchdown against the Bengals in week 16. Brian Moorman and long snapper Mike Schneck both made the Pro Bowl representing their respective positions for the AFC. Moorman was tied for the league-lead in punting average with an impressive 45.7 yards per punt.

The Bills ranked No. 1 in all four main coverage and return categories. They were No. 1 in net punting and tops in kickoff return average. They came in 4th in kickoff coverage and 5th in punt return average.

Even though on paper the statistics were slightly better in 2005, the 2004 season had to be more satisfying, as the Bills scored six special-teams touchdowns - 3 McGee TD kickoff returns, 2 punt retuns for TDs (Nate Clements and Jonathan Smith) and a Jason Peters blocked punt for a TD- while they gave up no scores. The Bills scored a TD and gave up a TD this past season.

It is no coincidence that the Buffalo Bills' special teams coach Bobby April was one of the few retained by the new regime of GM Marv Levy and new head coach Dick Jauron. Levy broke into the NFL as a special teams coach under George Allen and assembled one of the finest special teams units in thew history of the league during his Hall of Fame coaching reign of the Bills in the late 1980's through 1997. He made retaining April one of his top priorities, promoting April to the position of Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams. He'll continue to oversee the special teams and be a major consultant for Jauron.

Levy thought highly of the job April has done the past two seasons, getting serious consideration as one of the finalists for the Bills' head coaching vacancy last month, before bowing out to Jauron. Over the last two seasons, his first two in Buffalo, April proved himself as the Bills' best coach. He gets the best out of his players and has had the Bills' formerly hapless special teams unit at the top of the NFL for both seasons.

Bills coach Dick Jauron had a rock-solid special teams track record during his stint with the Chicago Bears. The Bears were in the top eight in the NFL in either punt coverage or net punting four of his five years. They were in the top half of the league in kickoff coverage four of his five years including No. 1 in 1999. Expect the Bills to continue the trend in 2006.

(BillsZone.com)


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