FanPost

special teams tackles

So I recently noticed that NFL.com and buffalobills.com have two different sets of stats up for tackles.  The player bios on buffalobills.com have different numbers all together.  The differences are special teams related, but I am having trouble trying to determine the exact number of special teams tackles that all of the Bills had last season.  It's currently 1:30 AM and I can't sleep.  I just cracked my 3rd beer in hopes of getting a little drowsy and I have been staring at similiar sets of numbers for awhile now.

I first noticed the difference today when Brian put up his state of the ILB thing.  He noted Costanzo's special teams ability, which I didn't think he had and went to check out his stats, hopeful that I would find out how many special teams tackles he has.  Turns out Brian was right, Costanzo had 6 or 7 ST tackles.  Here's where it got tricky for me.  buffalobills.com stats page doesn't award Costanzo with a single tackle.  I then noticed that Stamer only has 1 recorded tackle and Wendling doesn't have any.  Clearly buffalobills.com stats page only includes tackles made while playing D.

My next move was to click back on my internet explorer and check NFL.com's stats for the Bills.  Costanzo was awarded 6 tackles, but he was only listed at 6'1.  I remembered the Bills website lists him at 6'2 so I went back to check and ended up reading his bio where it says that he had 7 ST tackles this season.  So Brian was in fact, very right.  Costanzo had 6 or 7 tackles in only 3 games last season.  And to go further off subject for a moment, I was curious as to how tall Costanzo really is (not that it matters) and he weighed and measured in at 224 pounds and a touch under 6 feet tall at his Lafayette pro day.  I guess its pretty obvious now why he didn't get drafted.  I'm sure he does weigh the 235 pounds that he is listed at (it's been 3 years since his pro day), but I doubt he has grown 2 inches.

After some more looking around, the player bios at buffalobills.com award Ryan Neill with 14 ST tackles, Jenkins with 8 and Wendling with an absurd 24 ST tackles.  NFL.com only has Neill with 10 tackles and Wendling with 10 tackles, but it gives Jenkins 9 tackles.  Are these numbers just completely off?  Am I wasting valuable sleep time reading into typos and made up stats?

SI/CNN has a very detailed stats page so I went over there to see how many times the Bills punted and kicked off in an attempt to determine how many ST tackles the team as a whole had.

Moorman mishit a few punts, but looking at his overall numbers I no longer think he had a down year.  He punted the ball 81 times, but only 3 of those resulted in a touchback.  The opposing teams only managed to return 37 of Moorman's 81 punts.  Lindell had 65 kickoffs.  56 were returned, one of which for a TD.  That leaves 55 ST tackles on KOs and 37 on punts.  The Bills should have about 92 special teams tackles.

I'm immediately dismissing the bios on bills.com from now on.  To assume that Wendling had 24 ST tackles doesn't make any sense.  Are they possibly giving him a tackle every time the opposition fair catches a punt and he is the closest Bills player?  After some more looking over of the bios, it says that Ryan Neill had 3 tackles on defense.  That can't be right and on thier stats page it only gives Neill 1 tackle.  The bios must be puffery and useless info and nothing more.

I'm assuming that you can tell how many special teams tackles the Bills players had by finding the difference between the tackles bills.com and nfl.com have awarded.  Here are the differences for everyone who had more than a 1 tackle seperation (I counted an assist as a half a tackle so that the total comes out near 92):

  • John Wendling - 10

  • Ryan Neill - 8.5

  • Justin Jenkins - 8 (7 solo and 2 assists)

  • Josh Stamer - 8 (7 solo and 2 assists)

  • Mario Haggan - 6.5

  • Anthony Hargrove - 6.5

  • Blake Costanzo - 6

  • Rian Lindell - 3.5

  • Sam Aiken - 3.5

  • Bryan Scott - 3.5

  • Leon Joe - 3.5

  • Coy Wire - 3

  • Jim Leonhard - 3

  • Dwayne Wright - 3

  • Ryan Neufeld - 2.5

Butler, Fox, Youboty and Thomas all had 2 and there were a bunch of players with 1 tackle as the only recorded difference between buffalobills.com and nfl.com.  Ignoring the players who only had one ST tackle the total number of ST tackles I found was 87.  Considering that offensive players could have recorded a tackle on a lost fumble or INT, the tackle numbers were exactly what I was hoping for and I am confident they are VERY close to being correct.

So after all that, it seems like a good idea to discuss my outlook on the 2008 Bills special teams coverage units (I think that was my whole point of writing this, but I'm not sure anymore).  Buffalo will return both of their punt gunners assuming that Wendling and Jenkins make the team.  Personally I think that is a near lock, so I believe our punt coverage could even be a little better than it was last year.  That is pretty impressive considering the Bills allowed a league best 5.3 yards per punt return last season.  I think punt gunning is MUCH more specialized than kick coverage, so I am not at all concerned about the loss of Stamer, Haggan and Hargrove.  Considering how well Costanzo did last season along with the moderate success of players like Leon Joe, I think the Bills can find replacements.  Bryan Scott has the size/speed combo you look for in a ST ace.  Linebackers are tailer made for special teams, so Ace Bowen, Keith Ellison, John DiGiorgio and any other LBs that make the team (Costanzo, Jon Banks, Marcus Buggs) are all possibilities.  New offensive additions Darian Barnes, Mike Viti and Derek Fine are all candidates.  Chris Ellis should be able to fill Hargrove's role and Will James, Ko Simpson, George Wilson and Youboty are a little undersized for kick coverage, but could all fill a role as well.  I'm pretty confident that Bobby April can mold that long list of potentials into a solid kick coverage unit.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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