What a difference a year makes for the Buffalo Bills’ special teams unit.
One year after being ranked 31st out of the 32 NFL teams in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings, the Bills climbed 19 spots to finish 12th in Gosselin’s year-ending rankings with 341 total points.
Among the primary differences in Buffalo’s placement in the rankings? The team fired former special teams coordinator Danny Crossman and replaced him with Heath Farwell, and brought in Pro Bowler Andre Roberts to handle returns.
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 341. The New Orleans Saints fared best in Gosselin’s rankings with 256 points, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals (279.5), New England Patriots (284), Washington Redskins (301.5), Jacksonville Jaguars (302), Kansas City Chiefs (309.5), New York Giants (314), New York Jets (324), Pittsburgh Steelers (324.5), Detroit Lions (329) and Houston Texans (330.5).
At the other end of the spectrum, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked dead last in the league (491.5), followed by the Dallas Cowboys (474.5), Atlanta Falcons (451), Indianapolis Colts (419), and Carolina Panthers (417).
The special teams rankings are compiled annually by Gosselin, formerly of the Dallas Morning News and now with Sports Illustrated/Maven.
Under Farwell, the Bills earned top-five honors for several categories, including being first in average kickoff starting point (27.6 yard line), fewest special teams penalties (10 for 88 total yards), and opponent field goal percentage (63.6). Corey Bojorquez helped Buffalo finish fourth in punts inside the 20 (32), while thanks to Roberts’s 25.4 yards per runback on 25 kickoff returns, the Bills were fifth in average kickoff return yards.
Siran Neal led the Bills in special teams tackles with ten, tied for 21st in the NFL.