Special Teams Review

Parrish, McGee, Lindell and Moorman keep Buffalo's special teams unit a step ahead of competition


Terrence McGee: 1,082 kick return yards, 24.0 average, four 40+ returns, one TD

Roscoe Parrish: 440 punt return yards, 16.3 average, one TD

Rian Lindell: 24-for-27 field goals, two 50+ made kicks, 24-for-24 PATs

Brian Moorman: 40.8 punt average, 30 punts inside 20

Grade: B+


For the past few years, the Bills have enjoyed one of the top special teams units in the league. Last season was no different, as the Bills turned out impressive performances in both the kicking and return games.

Just five years ago, the Bills ranked near the bottom of the NFL as a special teams unit. With the arrival of Bobby April as Special Teams Coordinator in 2004, their ranking would soon rocket to the top of the league. In the annual Dallas Morning News rankings of special teams units, Buffalo ranked number one for 2004 and 2005, and third in 2006.

Much of this success can be attributed to the return game, which was resurrected by Terrence McGee. McGee has established himself as one of the premier kick return men in the game, already going to two Pro Bowls, as a starter in 2005, and an alternate in 2006.

McGee has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the week three times, and holds many of the Bills' return records. This comes from having a career average of 26.4 yards per return, three returns of 99+ yards, and five touchdowns. With production like this, teams are always nervous kicking to McGee because of his ability to take it all the way on nearly every return.

The perfect compliment to McGee came in 2005 with the arrival of Roscoe Parrish, who has also proven himself to be a threat to opposing teams on punt returns. In only three seasons, Parrish has an average return of 13.6 yards and two touchdowns. He can go the distance on any given play – a quality every team craves.

Aside from the return game, the Bills have found great stability and success in their kicking game as well. Rian Lindell joined the Bills in 2003, after leaving the Seahawks as a free agent. Lindell has been a part of the special teams resurgence in Buffalo by hitting over 87 percent of his field goals since 2004, and 100 percent of his PATs. He is the only player ever to start his career with 238 straight successful PAT attempts in the NFL. Lindell's efforts were rewarded this past season, as he was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after just the first game of the season.

Lindell has also broken several team records, including snapping Steve Christie's streak of 17-straight FG's by hitting 18 in a row this past season. All of his success comes despite the harsh playing conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium, cold temperatures, swirling winds and of course, the snow.

No one is more aware of these conditions than punter Brian Moorman. The two-time Pro-Bowler came to the Bills in 2001, and has kept them in games ever since. His ability to change the field during games makes him a staple of this special teams unit. He has averaged 40+ yards for every season as a Bill, but where Moorman really shines is in his placement ability. He's placed 156 punts inside the 20, ranking him in the top five in the league for the past two seasons. Moorman has mastered the weather of Buffalo, and the Bills recognize his talents as they signed him to a contract through the 2012 season.

Lack of depth hampered their coverage units, as many starters were hit with injuries throughout the season, including the tragic Week One injury to Kevin Everett. Despite the injury-ravaged roster, the Bills punt coverage team was able to rank number one in the league on punt returns, which speaks to the determination and work ethic of the squad under Bobby April.

The Bills special teams unit garnered a fourth-place tie for best special teams unit in the league in the Dallas Morning News' 2007 report.

Looking Ahead:

The Bills special teams unit lost three key players this off-season. Coy Wire, Josh Stamer, and Sam Aiken were all lost to free-agency. The three special teams aces played huge roles on this squad and will be tough to replace.

Some up-and-coming players that will likely step up and fill these spots are Justin Jenkins and John Wendling, who made some key plays last season.

Roscoe Parrish and Terrence McGee are both locked into long-term contracts, as are Rian Lindell and Brian Moorman, which will help the stability of the kicking and return games.

The Bills' special teams unit will continue to make game-changing plays. Bobby April is one of the best assistant coaches in the league, and this highly motivated unit is going to look for bigger and better things in 2008, and try to get back to their spot at the very top of the league.

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