No surprise: Numbers reflect Bills' league-wide ineptitude on special teams
The Buffalo Bills' special teams were underwhelming this season. Anybody who watched them realized that.
Data confirmed the Bills were among the worst in the NFL.
Every year, football insiders look forward to the release of Dallas Morning News reporter Rick Gosselin's special-teams rankings. Gosselin's analysis is done by ranking each team in 22 categories and slotting them by a cumulative score.
That's familiar territory for Bills special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman, a longtime associate of Doug Marrone. Crossman will look like a crony hire until the Bills get markedly better.
Prior to the Bills, Crossman spent three seasons with the Detroit Lions. They ranked 15th his first year, 31st in 2012 and 30th in 2013.
When he was the Carolina Panthers' coordinator from 2005 to 2009, they averaged 15.5 in the rankings.
So why is Crossman in Buffalo? He and Marrone played together in the World League with the London Monarchs and were on the U.S. Coast Guard Academy coaching staff in 1993. They've remained close since.
Also hurting Crossman's reputation is that Bills fans had gotten used to strong special-teams play under Bruce DeHaven and Bobby April. The Bills had a dangerous return game for many years.
Yet with talented players such as Leodis McKelvin and Marquise Goodwin, the Bills' return presence was practically invisible in 2013.
They set a club record for fewest kickoff returns in a season with 23 of them. The previous record was 36 in the nine-game strike season of 1982.
The Bills averaged 20.0 yards per kickoff return and had a long of 28 yards, the NFL's worst long return for the year.
The Bills ranked 29th on punt returns at 6.2 yards an attempt. That's ninth-worst in team history. They also fumbled a league-high seven times on punt returns.
Veteran punter Brian Moorman has a history of solidifying a spot in Gosselin's special-teams rankings. Not this year. He ranked near the bottom in both gross average and net average.
Carpenter tied a team record with 33 field goals. He missed only three times. He was perfect inside 42 yards and converted four of his six attempts from 50 yards and farther.