The Buffalo Bills’ special teams unit saw some improvement last season, going from one of the worst units in the league in 2018, to middle-of-the-road in 2019 as ranked in Football Outsiders DVOA percentage. That increase was largely due to the addition of several special teams stalwarts, such as Andre Roberts, Kevin Johnson and Senorise Perry. When predicting who the team’s stalwarts in snaps will be in 2020 however, let us first look at who previously led the team. Below is a table showing everyone who broke the 30% mark of special teams snaps last season.
2019 Bills Special Teams Snap Counts
After a series of roster moves, and retirements, five of the top seven leaders in special teams snaps are no longer with the team, including linebackers Julian Stanford and Lorenzo Alexander. Several other players, like Darryl Johnson, Corey Thompson and Robert Foster, have some positional competition for roster spots and are in serious risk of not making the team. With all of that, there is bound to be a changing of the guard.
If we’re looking for trends, the coaches clearly prefer linebackers and secondary players to make up the bulk of their special teams units. Nine out of the 16 players represent those two categories. Let’s take a look at some new additions who might dethrone a core special teamer or two.
- Tyler Matakevich: The former Pittsburgh Steelers specialist was clearly brought in to replace Lorenzo Alexander’s contributions and leadership. The four-year veteran is one of the best special team players in the NFL for the past couple years.
- Vosean Joseph: With the top three linebackers set with Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano and A.J. Klein, Joseph will most likely be asked to pick up the slack from departing players Julian Stanford and Maurice Alexander to make the team.
- Dane Jackson: Coming out of Pitt, Jackson was noted for his physicality and scrappy play on the defensive side of the ball, both of which are qualities that transition well to coverage teams. He’ll be competing for snaps against slot corner Cam Lewis, with the winner likely being the player most able to standout in the game’s third phase.
- Tyler Kroft: The expected starter last year, Kroft is now firmly planted behind Dawson Knox on the depth chart. In order to provide more value to the team, the veteran may be asked to take on more special teams duties, up from his 17% of snaps last season.
There is likely to be even more turnover as training camp and the preseason progresses, as both punter Corey Bojorquez and kicker Stephen Hauschka are preparing to fend off incoming challengers. What players do you see finding their way into the special teams lineup?