The Buffalo Bills are coming off of their second straight win to open the 2008 NFL season, and since it's Tuesday, it's time for another Buffalo Rumblings Film Session to get into the finer details of Sunday's game. Their performance wasn't as high-impact as it was in the season opener, but Buffalo's league-leading special teams played well for a second straight week.
Punt returns? Check, and it's becoming business as usual to excel for Roscoe Parrish. Coverage units? Check. Great performance. Kick returns, on the other hand...
Underwhelming kick returns
For a second straight week (and for the record, they only got one legitimate chance in Week 1), Buffalo's kick return units weren't the outstanding unit we've come to expect. Terrence McGee in particular was bad; on the opening kick of the game, he chose to run out of bounds on the short sideline rather than cut toward the middle of the field, where he had a bit more blocking. That was unexpected, and something I haven't seen from him in a while. Leodis McKelvin didn't fare much better on his returns; the Bills barely scraped possession at their 20-yard line each time they touched the ball.
Give some credit where credit is due - Jacksonville's special teams units are emerging as some of the league's best, and that was evident in their kick coverage (and you can bet they're working on punt coverage this week). However, to me, the problem lies in the wedge - thanks to how Dick Jauron chooses his inactives, we've had some changing of personnel in this unit. Sunday's wedge consisted of Fred Jackson, Darian Barnes and Kyle Williams, and their play wasn't great. This is just one area (the other is kick coverage) where we'll see some growing pains as Bobby April adjusts to new special teams personnel.
Simpson, Scott, Neill excelling in kick/punt coverage
Three guys showed up on tape as having excellent days covering kicks: Ko Simpson, Bryan Scott and long snapper Ryan Neill. Simpson in particular has been making some big hits on kick returns early in the year - and against a couple of good kick returners in Brian Witherspoon and Josh Wilson. Scott's contributions aren't surprising; we've known for a while that he's a good hitter, and he's one of a few defenders who tackle consistently on first contact. Neill's the most fun to watch - play in and play out, he's gangbusters down the field and is often the first cover man to reach a punt returner. He just needs to work on keeping his snaps up for his holder.
Overall, there's room to improve in both kick and punt coverage units, but plays are being made. The Bills have some of the best pure athletes on special teams, and each of them is going 100% every play. As I said above, they're playing well right now; it's hard to imagine them not getting better as they play together more.
Roscoe outstanding once again
Here's a question that I'll put out there for y'all to ponder: is there a more exciting play in the NFL than a Roscoe Parrish punt return? I'm going with "no", and I wish more football fans league-wide realized it. He's sensational. It helps, of course, that his blockers routinely give him tons of room to operate (and let me tell you, they block hard - it's common to see two or three bone-crunching hits on a Parrish return).
Buffalo's offense will likely experience some inconsistency in coming weeks - they are still, after all, very young at key positions - so it would be beneficial if you could just keep on keepin' on, Roscoe. Take notice, football fans - the NFL's best punt returner is NOT named Hester. It's Roscoe Parrish.