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Buffalo Bills plummet to 31st in Rick Gosselin’s special teams rankings

(Virtually) nothing went right for Danny Crossman’s squad in 2018

One year after Danny Crossman’s special teams unit experienced the largest improvement among the 32 teams in the NFL, the Buffalo Bills took a major step backwards in special teams play in 2018. It cost Crossman his job, as the Bills plummeted from 7th to 31st overall in columnist Rick Gosselin’s annual NFL special teams rankings.

The rankings are based on 22 different kicking-game categories, including kickoff and punt returns, kickoff and punt coverage, punting and net punting average, the number of punts kicked inside the 20, takeaways, giveaways, and penalties committed.

Points are assigned according to a team’s standing, with one point given out for being the best team in that category, and 32 points for the worst team.

Factoring in all of the categories, Buffalo had a team score of 458.5, 0.5 points behind the 30th-place Cleveland Browns and ahead of only the Green Bay Packers (470.5 points).

The New York Jets (231 points) had the best special teams unit in 2018, followed by the New Orleans Saints (243), Kansas City Chiefs (248), the Miami Dolphins (296.5), and the Arizona Cardinals (301) and Baltimore Ravens (301).

The Bills were one of 16 teams to not allow any points on special teams, but they were also one of 16 teams to not score any special teams points.

Only eight teams both failed to score any points on special teams while also not allowing their opponent to score any special teams points: the Bills, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bills were also one of 12 teams to not block any kicks in 2018.

In the coverage game, Siran Neal and Lafayette Pitts tied for the team lead with seven special teams tackles apiece.

Led by one of the best placekickers in the league in Stephen Hauschka—who made 22 of 28 field goals and 25 of 26 extra point attempts in 2018—Buffalo is hoping new special teams coordinator Heath Farwell can return the special teams unit to its successes of 2017 compared to its shortcomings of 2018.