The Buffalo Bills fell to 24th in Rick Gosselin's 2016 special teams rankings, which he compiles on an annual basis for The Dallas Morning News. Special teams coach Danny Crossman is the lone holdover by Sean McDermott from the Rex Ryan coaching staff.
Buffalo’s fall likely came from the underperformance of their kicking units, which bolstered their ranking in 2015. After finishing tops in kickoff return yardage and opponent drive start, they Bills had an on-again, off-again relationship with kickoff specialist Jordan Gay in 2016.
Gay was cut at the end of training camp but signed to the practice squad. In September he was added to the roster but released at the end of the month. He was re-signed in November but released in December. He is now selling real estate in Western New York if you’re looking for someone.
Punter Colton Schmidt also had a down year. His yards per punt dropped from 46.4 yards to 42.4 yards, which was 31st in the NFL. At 38.1 net yards per punt, they fared 30th. That number fell considerably from 41.3 the year before.
Filed goal kicker Dan Carpenter also had a rough season, converting on just 76% of his kicks. That was 30th in the NFL. While he was perfect under 40 yards, he hit on 44% of his field goals from 40-49 yards. He also missed five of his 45 extra point attempts.
Brandon Tate returned almost all of Buffalo’s kickoffs and punts and brought up the Bills in the rankings. He was in the middle of the pack in kickoff return average (21.3 yards per return) and longest return (45 yards). On punt returns, he fared much better, coming in sixth with 11.2 yards per return. While they didn’t have a return touchdown, Buffalo led the league with eight punt returns over 20 yards.