The Bills lead the league in kick return average (30.8) and face a Texans team that is in the bottom third of the league in kick coverage in Houston (23rd). Part of the problem has been their kicker Shayne Graham, who is struggling to get his kickoffs deep.
Through the Texans’ first seven games, Graham and the Texans are last in the league in touchback percentage (25.6%) which is almost half the league average (50%). Part of the reason the percentage is so low is because they have the second fewest touchbacks in the league (11) and the fourth-most kickoffs (45).
“I don’t think you can all of a sudden say if he’s kicking it two yards deep say it’s got to be out of the end zone,” said Houston head coach Gary Kubiak. ”You can do what you can do. He does directional kick pretty good. The thing we’ve noticed he kicks off pretty well early in games and as the game goes on, they’re not as good. So we tried to focus on that trying to keep him focused on some things we think can help him.
“We’re going to have to be smart some of the things we do kicking the ball, too. If you know you can’t kick it out of the endzone then you better know where you’re kicking it and how you’re going to cover, so we’ve got our hands full there. Hopefully we can start to improve that this week.”
Bills head coach Chan Gailey is hopeful Houston’s struggles lead to opportunities for Leodis McKelvin and Brad Smith.
“I am seeing opportunities,” said Gailey. ”I don’t want too many kickoff returns. You don’t want to go out there and have a chance for five or six, but the two or three they may kick you hope we get good returns on them to get good field position or points on them which happened in our last game.”
Brad Smith returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown in Buffalo’s last game in Week 7 against the Titans. Houston is last in the league in average drive start allowed giving opponents an average start of their own 26-yard line. Conversely, they’re last in their own average drive start, with a mark of their own 18.5-yard line.
Tags: Bills-Texans, Brad Smith, Chan Gailey, Leodis McKelvin
Posted in Inside the Bills