Inside The Bills

Starters on special teams have set tone

Posted by Chris Brown on September 17, 2014 – 11:32 am

The Bills not only have back-to-back winners for AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Dan Carpenter and C.J. Spiller, they’ve got a host of starters playing important roles on their special teams units under coordinator Danny Crossman. Head coach Doug Marrone said the impact of their core special teamers and starters from offense and defense on those units has been critical.

“There are about 30-something positions on special teams. You have four or five, sometimes you can have six, core players that can play a majority of those four. Then, all of the sudden, due to injuries you start having to watch out about those snap counts with everyone. We do have starters on most teams, at least one phase of it,” said Marrone.

“For Robert Woods to go down there and make that play, which was a great play, we pointed that out to the team. Brandon Spikes blocked for CJ Spiller. We pointed that out. Leodis coming from 50-something yards downfield to be in the mix for the blocked punt. I think that just goes to show the type of effort that our starters are giving on special teams, which I think is important,” Marrone said. “Corey Graham is playing all over the place. You can sit there and preach that as a coach, but when those players go out there and the rest of the team can see it on the field then that will make you better. We’ve been playing well on special teams right now and we need to keep going.”

The Bills currently rank second in the league in kick return average and fifth in the league in punt coverage.


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Touchback percentage made returns difficult

Posted by Chris Brown on July 1, 2014 – 9:13 am

The Bills did not have a good season on kick returns last year. We profiled who the team’s kick returner might be for the 2014 season in today’s installment of our daily Camp Countdown series on the home page. No matter who it is it will be interesting to see if circumstance and return philosophy has the impact it did on their productivity last season.

Buffalo’s kick return unit was largely the victim of circumstance last season. In facing a lot of the league’s big legged kickoff specialists the Bills far and away had the highest touchback percentage in the NFL in 2013. A whopping 71.8% of their kickoffs received went for touchbacks, good for most in the league.

The only other teams that were close were Atlanta (70.7%) and New Orleans (68.1%), which wasn’t surprising with both being dome teams. The league average for touchbacks however, was less than 50 percent (49.9%).

The Bills also had the second-highest number of kickoffs received that reached the end zone (91.8%). Only Atlanta had a higher percentage.

Now not every kick that reaches the end zone means it should be at touchback, but it at least appeared more often than not that anything more than five yards deep in the end zone the Bills would take a knee. Other teams chose to be more aggressive and paid the price for it so it’s not an easy call as to where the line of demarcation should be to take a knee or bring it out.

Either way it’s going to be interesting to see the steps Buffalo’s kick return unit takes in year two under Crossman.


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Carpenter was perfect

Posted by Chris Brown on June 19, 2014 – 2:26 pm

One last note from Bills minicamp day 2. During a special teams segment coordinator Danny Crossman had the field goal unit running through a series of eight attempts with Dan Carpenter taking all of them. Here’s how Carpenter fared.

1 – 32 yards – right hash – good
2 – 34 yards – left hash – good
3 – 36 yards – left hash – good
4 – 38 yards – right hash – good
5 – 42 yards – right hash – good
6 – 45 yards – left hash – good
7 – 46 yards – left hash – good
8 – 48 yards – right hash – good

A perfect 8-for-8 for Carpenter. We’ll see if Dustin Hopkins gets an opportunity in today’s final minicamp practice.

 

 


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Expert advice for your fantasy team?

Posted by johnmurphyshow on April 2, 2014 – 6:19 pm

ranazziziHe’s may not be a fantasy football expert, but he plays one on TV.

Tonight on The John Murphy Show, actor/comedian Steve Rannazzisi joins us as he prepares for a three-day engagement at Buffalo’s Helium Comedy Club. He plays Kevin MacArthur in the hit FXX TV show “The League.” In the show, Kevin is the former League Commissioner who is the first one in his group of fantasy players to get married and have a kid. We’ll get some fantasy football tips from Rannazzisi at 830pm.

Also on the show, former Bills LB Shane Conlan joins us at 730pm to talk about his new job with the Arena Football League’s Pittsburgh Power. Conlan has lived in Pittsburgh since his playing days ended and he’s found a way to mesh his love of football into his extensive experience in the business world.

And Bills Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman stops by at 8pm to discuss the recent additions to the roster (Corey Graham, Anthony Dixon) and how they can help upgrade the Bills special teams.

As usual, phone calls from fans are encouraged. The John Murphy Show airs from 7pm-9pm tonight on the flagship station of the Buffalo Bills, WGR Sportsradio 550.


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Moorman believes in Crossman’s schemes

Posted by Chris Brown on January 8, 2014 – 9:18 am

As we profiled on Buffalobills.com this morning, Brian Moorman wants to keep kicking in Buffalo, but is set to become an unrestricted free agent. While the organization has expressed an intention to make the veteran punter an offer, Moorman knows there are no guarantees. At the same time Moorman called his return to Buffalo the most fun he’s had in the NFL in three years, and he’s a supporter of special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.

“I think he did a good job,” Moorman said of Crossman. “He’s coming to a new team and putting in a new scheme. I think just having one more year under his belt with another full offseason and training camp, he’s got good schemes and I think we’ve got good players. I don’t think you can base it off one or two returns. I think we’ve had a good year.”

Moorman was instrumental in helping Crossman’s punt unit to cut their average return against from 14.5 yards with Shawn Powell punting to 7.6 yards with Moorman punting.

The veteran punter believes they’ll be able to shave some other numbers down on coverage units while also improving their return game themselves.

“That’s one of the things that we’ll probably look at throughout the offseason and continue to get better and the schemes that coach Crossman has going in I think are very effective,” said Moorman. “Obviously we take a lot of pride in that and we’ll continue to improve on that as we go.”


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What happened on the kick returns

Posted by Chris Brown on December 29, 2013 – 10:57 pm

The Bills gave up a season-high 189 kick return yards on just four returns Sunday. Head coach Doug Marrone tried to explain what went wrong on the two returns by LeGarrette Blount that went for 83 and 62 yards right after Buffalo touchdown drives.

“The missed tackles are what happened,” said Marrone. “I think when you put the film on you’ll see going on there, one time we got collapsed and missed a tackle in a hole. A couple of problems of that one. Obviously if you get knocked out of your lane… on the second one there were three missed tackles by guys in position to make it. You have to make that play and we weren’t able to make it.”

“He bounced it, I want to say, on the back side,” said Arthur Moats. “We squeezed to flat. It was a good play by [LaGarrette Blount]. Initially they hadn’t shown any bounces all year with 29 back there. On the second one we had a guy in the hole he has to make the play.”

Marrone said it’s been difficult to get consistent core of special teams players assembled under special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.

“There are times we haven’t done things well enough, spotty play,” said Marrone. “I don’t disagree with that. I don’t think coach Crossman would disagree with you. But going forward one of the things we have to do is see the teams that have good special teams have good specialists back there returning. But you have to have a core and we really haven’t. That’s one of the things we need to improve on and one of the things we’ll address in the offseason.”


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Moorman in sync with Crossman’s approach

Posted by Chris Brown on October 8, 2013 – 3:32 pm

Bills punter Brian Moorman had a sit down with special teams coordinator Danny Crossman after signing back with the club. After discussing the approach with the punt team in particular, the veteran punter is confident he can deliver what Crossman is looking for.

“His philosophies of the alley and things like that I really, really like,” said Moorman. “Obviously, as punters, we always want hang time, we always put a watch on the ball.  Being in the weather that we’re in here, sometimes it’s easier than others-the wind will knock it down or whatever.

“Talking to guys like Jim Leonhard and some of the other guys on the coverage, the one thing that we’ve always done throughout  the years we try to cover each other’s back—if I cant get the same hang time, they cover.  If the coverage gets blocked up, I got to get better hang time.  We just have to come together as a group—11-guys try to go out there and help the defense out with good field position.”


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Marrone not focused on his debut

Posted by Chris Brown on August 11, 2013 – 9:37 am

For Doug Marrone, Sunday will mark the first time he’s on an NFL sideline as a head coach. But if you ask Buffalo’s new head coach about what he might be feeling when he takes to the sideline this afternoon, he dismisses it.

“I really don’t think about that. I’m a little different type of guy,” said Marrone. “I’m more concerned about doing the best job I can, working the game management situations through my mind. Getting the players ready to play. Getting out there and really evaluating. Watching the coaches. We’ll be on the headphones doing all that stuff really for the first time. That’ll be my focus.”

For Marrone it’ll mark the first time he’s working as a head coach with assistants like Mike Pettine, Danny Crossman and others. Working the communication between the sidelines and the booth upstairs are just as important for coaches at times as the play on the field.


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Kick return candidates

Posted by Chris Brown on May 15, 2013 – 3:48 pm

Here during OTAs there are a few kick return candidates on the roster and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman is not short on talent.

Taking reps on kick return in OTAs this week were Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham, Brad Smith and Tashard Choice. Leodis McKelvin has been mentioned as an option as well, but he’s been limited to just individual position drill work in practices coming off his groin surgery earlier this offseason.

Nevertheless the speed quota is more than filled in the return game for Buffalo.


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Special Teams Coach ready for OP weather

Posted by johnmurphyshow on January 15, 2013 – 7:45 pm

He’s just wrapped up his second day on the job. And the new Special Teams Coordinator for the Buffalo Bills says he knows what he’s getting into, when it comes to coaching kickers and punters at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Danny Crossman was a guest Tuesday night on The John Murphy Show. He was just named as the team’s new Special Teams Coordinator Monday, after spending the last three seasons with the Detroit Lions in the same role.

Crossman says he knows the wind and weather can be a challenge during the football season in Orchard Park. And he vows that his unit will be ready.

“It’s part of it,” he told host John Murphy. “But that’s something that we’ll take into account and we’ll be prepared and we’ll practice. We’ll have ideas and schemes and packages for whatever comes up. And that’s wind, that’s sun, that’s rain, that’s snow. It shouldn’t surprise you, that’s for sure.”

Crossman is reunited with Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone, whom he’s known since the two played college football almost thirty years ago. Marrone played at Syracuse while Crossman was a defensive back and fullback at Pitt. Then they played together in the old World League of American Football with the London Monarchs, and coached together in 1993 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Crossman says he knows Marrone professionally as well as anyone, and he knows what he’ll bring to the Bills.

“He is, first and foremost, a great evaluator,” according to Crossman. “He’s an outstanding teacher. And he’s very organized. He will have a plan for everything, which is important. When those situations come up, it’s better to have anticipated and have an idea of them, instead of just reaction. Because that’s when bad things happen.”

The Bills new Special Teams coach is looking forward to working with Marrone again, and he thinks the new head man will pay adequate attention to the Bills special teams.

“As a Head Coach, he understands how all three phases have to tie together to be successful,” Crossman said on the radio show. “The bottom line is all that any of us want to do, is win games for the Buffalo Bills.
I think he’ll be very supportive and have great ideas for everything we’re looking to do.”

The John Murphy Show airs weeknights from 7-9pm on the flagship station of the Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550


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Crossman a guest tonight on JMS

Posted by johnmurphyshow on January 15, 2013 – 5:07 pm

He’s just wrapping up his second day on the job, and Bills new Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman has hit the ground running. But he’ll take time out of his busy schedule tonight to appear as a guest on The John Murphy Show.

Crossman was named to the post Monday, after spending the last three years as the Special Teams Coordinator for the Detroit Lions. He’s going into his 11th year in the NFL, after a previous stint in Carolina. And he and new Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone go way back, to their days playing for the London Monarchs of the World League of American Football. We’ll talk to Crossman about his relationship with Marrone and his philosophy of special teams play in the NFL tonight at 720pm

Also tonight, we’ll talk with the Voice of Syracuse Football, Matt Park. He’s had a chance to watch Doug Marrone up close and personal for the last four years in Central New York. And we’ll talk with Matt about the five newly named Bills assistants who come to the team from Marrone’s staff at Syracuse. Matt Park joins us at 8pm tonight.

At 820pm, we’ll be live on the line with the man behind the popular website FootballZebras.com. Ben Austro has some thoughts on the playoff officiating assignments and the Super Bowl.

As always, we’ll make time for phone calls from Bills fans.

The John Murphy Show airs weeknights from 7pm-9pm on the flagship station of the Bills, WGR Sports Radio 550.


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Crossman on McKelvin

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2013 – 5:01 pm

It’s hard for a special teams coordinator to not like a dynamic return talent like Leodis McKelvin, especially when he leads the league in punt return average (18.7). Of course Bills new special teams coordinator Danny Crossman also realizes that with McKelvin an unrestricted free agent, he’s not guaranteed the opportunity to work with him.

“When you mention a player like Leodis McKelvin who is naturally gifted and has had a very good career, there are those in both the NFL and college who just have the innate ability to make big plays,” said Crossman in a team statement. “Some guys are blessed with it and some are not. It is exciting to look at a guy with that caliber and possibly have the opportunity to work with as well as the other positions of the unit here.”

McKelvin made it clear that his first choice would be to re-sign with the Bills.

“I would love to stay here,” said McKelvin. “This team gave me my chance to live my dream as an NFL player.”

 


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Crossman has respect for Bills and fan base

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2013 – 4:51 pm

Bills new special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was happy to land the job with Buffalo. In a team statement he indicated how much respect he has for the Bills as an organization as well as its fan base.

“Most important is the opportunity to work with an outstanding NFL franchise that has a passionate fan base,” said Crossman. “I know how much this team means to the community having grown up in a hardworking, blue-collar city. I’m excited to help this organization on the field with the support of our fans.”

Crossman is an El Paso, Texas native, who played his college football at Pitt as a defensive back.


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Marrone: Experience coveted on spec. teams

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2013 – 4:46 pm

The Bills hired their special teams coordinator Monday as they announced the addition of Danny Crossman, who was most recently the special teams coordinator of the Detroit Lions (2010-2012). Head coach Doug Marrone made it clear that he coveted experience in the man who would fill the role for the Bills.

“Many games are won and lost with special teams,” said Marrone in a team statement. “It was important to our players and the organization to hire someone with experience. You want to make sure that you have someone that has experience and that can evaluate the full roster so that we know that we are getting the most out of our special teams units. It is obviously one third of the game and it is a very important part of it. That person has to deal with everyone on the team. It is different than your unit groups as far as offensive line, defensive backs or any other position—he is truly dealing with everyone.”

Crossman was a former defensive back himself and went to the Super Bowl as a special teams assistant with the Carolina Panthers in 2003.


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Report: Bills to add Crossman for spec. teams

Posted by Chris Brown on January 14, 2013 – 11:41 am

The Detroit News is reporting that the Bills have their special teams coach.

According to the report Detroit Lions special teams coach Danny Crossman has asked out of the final year of his contract with Detroit to serve as special teams coordinator for the Bills.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone and Crossman were teammates with the London Monarchs in the World Football League. They also coached together at the Coast Guard Academy in 1993.
 
Crossman has 10 years NFL coaching experience, the last three of which came with the Lions. From 2003-2009 Crossman worked with the Carolina Panthers special teams units.

He also has 10 years of college coaching experience following a brief pro career as a defensive back. He played defensive back at Pitt in college.

The El Paso native turns 46 on Thursday.


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