Each Tuesday this season, we here at Buffalo Rumblings will review the week's Buffalo Bills game on film (i.e. good old fashioned DVR) to get a little more in-depth perspective on how the Bills are performing. This week, in honor of their spectacular opening day performance, we'll start our film reviews with an analysis of the special teams.
Clearly, the Buffalo Bills have the best special teams unit on the whole in the NFL. "Experts" may talk about other team's players (namely Chicago's Devin Hester), but they also know that when they want to talk about all-around special teams play, Buffalo is the mecca. What we may not realize, however, is that the Bills' special teams - while explosive and dominant on Sunday - weren't perfect, and it was largely due to personnel turnover.
Terrence McGee only got one shot to return a kick, and it was this close to being a big play. On the opening kick of the game, McGee had a rather large cutback lane and was headed for it, but a Seahawk got enough of his ankle to slow him up, and Seattle avoided early disaster. Not much to report here, because Seattle's other two kickoffs were touchbacks.
What else is there to say about Roscoe Parrish? He takes a lot of chances when he returns punts - mainly because he can - and clearly, he blew up on Sunday to the tune of 6 returns for 120 yards and his poetic 63-yard touchdown return. Don't expect Parrish to ever get six punt return chances in a game ever again after this performance; I'm still not quite sure why Seattle kept kicking to the guy. He can be a bit boom-or-bust, but when he booms, it's sonic.
Parrish is so good because he's incredibly adept at making the first guy miss; from there on out, it's 10-on-10 blocking, in essence. Buffalo's punt coverage was very good Sunday, in particular on the touchdown return; John DiGiorgio, Jon Corto (twice), Bryan Scott, Justin Jenkins and Copeland Bryan all had key blocks on that play. Bobby April knows exactly the type of player to use on his units - the guys who never, ever quit - and that's why the Bills are so solid in all facets. I could watch the Parrish TD over and over and over...
Rian Lindell wasn't awful on his kickoffs, but there's definitely room for improvement. The weather played a part in this one, as windy conditions forced Ashton Youboty to hold for Lindell on kickoffs on more than one occasion. He had one touchback, and his kicks were high and deep.
Buffalo's kick coverage wasn't spectacular. Seattle's Josh Wilson ended up averaging 26 yards per return on four returns, including a 39-yarder that helped set up Seattle's lone touchdown of the game. Of course, some of this can be forgiven when the same unit forces a fumble and the kicker recovers it later in the game; Corto's strip and the ensuing touchdown put the game completely out of reach before the third quarter ended.
Brian Moorman showed off some more inconsistency punting, shanking a couple, and booming a few more. Again, the weather factored in slightly, but we can't blame any of it on the long snapping - Ryan Neill was impeccable. Moorman's a veteran, and if Buffalo's offense has stretches like they did early in this game, he'll have his opportunities to iron out his issues.
Moorman did out-kick his coverage a couple of times, which was the biggest reason that Seattle's Nate Burleson averaged 18 yards per return and routinely was able to turn the corner. Once Moorman gets his kicks higher, Buffalo's punt coverage - the clear strength of the unit last year outside of punt returns - will return to normal. The team's gunners, Jenkins and John Wendling, were excellent as usual Sunday.
- The touchdown pass from Moorman to Ryan Denney in the third quarter was a work of genius by April. Perfect design with a dash of luck. Not much to report from the film, other than the fact that it's hilarious to watch. Yes... the Bills' special teams are so good that it's literally funny.
- It's important to realize that some of the coverage woes came at the hands of new personnel. Buffalo's undergoing a serious facelift (dare I say youth movement?) on all of their coverage units in particular, and some of the longer runs the team gave up yesterday may have simply been growing pains. Those guys work hard, however, so they should only get better the more they play.
- In general, an outstanding performance. Nearly flawless, though it would be nice to see them tighten up coverages and become a bit more effective with their kicks. Definitely not much to complain about, however. These units were the clear difference in Buffalo's opening day win.