It's fair to say that optimism surrounding the Buffalo Bills is about as high as can be reasonably expected after two straight solid preseason showings. Bills fans have been entertained, which, at the moment, is masking several glaring deficiencies that the team still hasn't been able to fix. The most-referenced of those deficiencies is kick and punt coverage on special teams.
Buffalo's special teams, under the direction of new/old coordinator Bruce DeHaven, have given up one or more huge kick or punt returns in each of the team's three preseason games this year, including a lengthy touchdown in the opener. After six years of special teams dominance under the tutelage of now-departed coordinator Bobby April, this latest teams development has been a massive disappointment for the fan base.
Keep in mind, however, that the Bills still aren't utilizing all resources available to them in covering kicks and punts. Including kicker Rian Lindell, here are the ten players that covered the opening kickoff of Saturday's win over Cincinnati: David Nelson, Jonathan Stupar, Alex Carrington, Aaron Maybin, Arthur Moats, Antonio Coleman, Reggie Corner, Ashton Youboty, Ellis Lankster and Bryan Scott.
Not all of these players will be covering kicks for the Bills in 2010; some may not even make the team. Proven special teams players like George Wilson, Corey McIntyre, Keith Ellison and a few others haven't even seen the field yet. For now, I'm at ease knowing the Bills have sacrificed some teams time to play better offense and defense. I'll worry more about the coverage units if they're making the same mistakes at full personnel strength.