Sorry for the late arrival on week 2's coverage! Real life takes up more time than you'd think! Let's dive right in.
When looking at the kickoffs from this week, pay attention to two things: One, this was our first game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and the swirling winds of Lake Erie will probably be John Potter's home for the next decade. Two, Buffalo was kicking against the wind in quarters 2 and 3.
No problems here, as this kickoff actually dinged the uprights. "It's good!" Path of the ball illustrated below.
Another good touchback, well clear of the endzone. Marked in blue.
As we got into the second quarter, the distance got tougher. The returner takes a knee even though he's only about 7 yards deep in the endzone. But that looks intentional from the position of his lead blocker.
This was the first really returnable ball we'd seen from Potter this season. I'm no expert on the intricacies of kickoff mechanics, so I can't say what besides wind was a factor here. Either way, it let Javier Arenas make a decent return.
As Arenas picks up speed at the 10 we can see some Bills defenders have gotten through the blocking and are setting up their tackling lanes.
Arenas sees the middle of the field getting busy with Bills, and cuts to his right, trying to open a lane down the sideline.
Not so fast - Justin Rogers plugs up that lane. Meanwhile, Chiefs #79 loses his block.
The unblocked Bill, Ruvell Martin, comes free to make the tackle of Arenas at the 20 yard line. Crisis averted.
Another short kick - we'll have to watch out for those 2 quarters of going against the wind during home games. Arenas fields at the 5.
Unlike the previous kickoff return, this one is designed to go left. Arenas follows his blockers.
That's a scary amount of open space we now see to the left of Arenas. If this were a speedster like Trindon Holliday who could turn the corner in an instant, I'd be very worried right now.
Arenas tries slicing through the Bills tacklers. It's a footrace now. He'll have to outrun the defenders running sideways down the field.
This time, he loses. A tackler disengages from his block and brings Arenas down, close to the 30.
Another harmless kickoff, in the fourth quarter. This one bounces through the end zone.
I have to give credit to the kickoff coverage team for a solid, but unspectacular day. John Potter was 4/6 on touchbacks, the coverage team allowed a pedestrian return average of around 20 yards, and no miscues or penalties occurred. The only concern going forward will be John Potter's leg strength versus the Buffalo winds.
Imgur Album for pictures: http://imgur.com/a/i85Sf
Now we turn to the recently-released Brian Moorman, and analyze his performance. Did it justify his departure? As a reminder, here's a look at the grading system for punting that I use:
Timing: Measures hangtime of a punt.
< 3.5 seconds: "Turrible."
< 4 seconds: Bad.
< 4.5 seconds: Okay.
< 5 seconds: Good.
> 5 seconds: Great!
> 5.3 seconds: Outstanding!
Distance: Measures downfield and acrossfield distance a punt traveled.
< 50 yards: "Turrible."
< 55 yards: Bad.
< 65 yards: Okay.
< 75 yards: Good.
< 85 yards: Great!
> 85 yards: Outstanding!
In general, a punt needs to travel horizontally somewhat - if it's straight on, it will end up in the middle of the field and give a returner room to run. The best punts land exactly at the edge of the sideline - this means they were able to travel their full distance before going out of bounds where they couldn't be returned.
Average: 4.07 seconds
Downfield: From BUF 14 to KC 15 = 84 yards
Acrossfield:From right hash to halfway between right hash and sideline. Okay distance.
Trajectory Notes: Traveling 84 yards in the air for a 60 yard from scrimmage punt, the distance was very good on the punt. However, it came at the expense of hangtime, which was a pedestrian 4.07 seconds. A launch angle of 51 degrees is not ideal for setting up your coverage units - the receiver will end up getting the ball with room to move. The weak acrossfield distance was also a bit disappointing - it looks like Moorman just kicked as straight as he could to maximize distance.
As for the coverage - it was overall pretty solid. Javier Arenas is given a lot of room to work with at the start, due to the low-ish punt:
But Chris White knifes through the garbage to make the tackle, and Corey McIntyre is right behind.
Average: 4.14 seconds
Downfield: BUF 13 to KC 25 = 62 yards
Acrossfield: Left hash to left sideline. Great distance.
The reason this punt was successful was because of that acrossfield distance. The punt traveled just barely to the sideline, allowing Moorman to maximize distance while preventing a return. Moorman is not a good directional punter, his game is straightforward distance. So I was impressed with the sideways movement. The angle was an average 56 degrees, and the hangtime was again average. If this was returned, it'd be a bad punt. But this time, it was good.
As you can see, Arenas had nowhere to go but out of bounds to catch this ball.
Average: 3.95 seconds
Downfield: BUF 16 to KC 30 = 54 yards
Acrossfield: Right hash to left sideline. Great distance.
This was another one of those disappointing distances from Moorman that I noticed in the first game. Despite a lack of pressure, the ball only traveled in the air 54 yards, which was a net distance of 43 yards. With a hangtime of 3.95 seconds, it wasn't a very high punt either. Once again, the return was saved by excellent placement of the punt, but since it gave KC very generous field position, I'm not impressed.
Here's Arenas catching the punt. His momentum carried him 2 yards forward and out of bounds.
Average: 4.02 seconds
Downfield: BUF 7 to KC 39 = 54 yards
Acrossfield: Right hash to left hash. Poor distance.
Another average to bad punt from Moorman. The hangtime has been maintained around 4 seconds all day, and this one is the same. Poor distance both downfield and across leads to a straight-on punt to Arenas, despite the launch angle of 58 degrees, which is okay. Arenas got the ball and was able to return - let's check out the coverage. Arenas sees he might have a 3 on 1 blocking situation and heads to his right from the 39.
The blocking's closing up, but it looks like he'll have room on the right sideline.
Arenas has only traveled forward 2 yards so far. He looks to turn the corner and head upfield as he goes right.
Arenas turns on the afterburners and speeds ahead 15 yards before the Bills catch up to him. He bulls his way forward for another 5 yards, turning this into a 21 yard return.
Average: 4.48 seconds
Downfield: BUF 40 to KC 0 = 60 yards
Acrossfield: Left hash to halfway between left hash and sideline. Okay distance.
This was Moorman's first real chance to pin Kansas City deep all game. At this point, Buffalo was already winning 35-3 in the fourth quarter. Still, Moorman showed a poor sense for touch on his punting all game, and this was another example. The punt was kicked end-over-end, bounced in the end-zone, and ended a touchback. It's too bad, because this had the best hangtime and highest trajectory angle of any of the punts this game - it just wasn't good enough.
Average: 4.36 seconds
Downfield: BUF 17 to KC 17 = 66 yards
Acrossfield: Right hash to right sideline. Great distance.
This was the first good punt from Moorman all game, in my opinion. The punt travels through the air 66 yards, for a net yards from scrimmage distance of 54. It had a decent hangtime, and was placed right on the edge of the sideline. The 57 degree launch angle was right up there with Moorman's average for the day.
Average: 3.68 seconds
Downfield: BUF 10 to KC 31 = 59 yards
Acrossfield: Right hash to halfway between right hash and sideline. Okay distance.
Another bad punt closes out a disappointing game for Brian Moorman. Very little hangtime, and a low angle of 50 degrees. It was muffed by an unsuspecting Steve Breaston, but he was left with room to navigate and did his best to fight forward for extra yards. Fortunately, this was the end of the game and the punts didn't matter anymore, but one would still hope that Moorman could at least kick out of bounds and limit the special teams injury potential.
Let's check out the return here too.
Steve Breaston, back to return, muffs the punt but picks it up and gets going.
5 yards in and no one has come close to him. The gunner at the bottom of the screen in image one was pushed completely out of the play.
Garrison Sanborn, who was beat on the last big punt return, makes an effort to tackle Breaston.
Unfortunately, Breaston runs free and turns back to the right, trying to follow his blockers.
He runs upfield some more before being finally tackled by Nigel Bradham.
Another week, and another poor grade for Brian Moorman. He had 0 punts downed inside the 20, one touchback, 2 punts returned for 20+ yards, and more questions about his punting ability. I gave him points for doing a good job directionally punting against the Chiefs - he had several kicks land right on the sideline. But ultimately, it was a very underwhelming performance from a punter whose game for so long has been based on powerfully deep kicks. The coverage teams did give up 41 yards of returns in 2 return attempts, but considering both kicks had short hangtimes (4.01 and 3.68 seconds), I'm not surprised that the tacklers were unable to set up their lanes.
Imgur Album for pictures: http://imgur.com/a/VGfVf
Overall? Improvement from week one to week two. Coverage was tighter, especially on kickoff returns, and Brian Moorman improved from a dreadful week one performance. Still, it was not to the level you want to see from what should be one of the best special teams groups in the league.