Inside The Bills

Potter in need of more touchbacks

Posted by Chris Brown on October 20, 2012 – 1:05 pm

Bills kickoff specialist John Potter had one touchback last week against Arizona, but his percentage has to improve moving forward.

Potter currently has 13 touchbacks on 26 kickoffs, and head coach Chan Gailey thought the percentage would be higher.

“You know, I was hoping that he would have more touchbacks and have more non-returned kicks this year, yes,” said Gailey following Friday’s practice. “I was hoping for that. The good thing about it is when he kicks it we have great hang time. That’s been a positive. So, you decide the trade-off every week.”

Potter got off to a good start at the beginning of the season. He had three touchbacks on his first four kickoffs in Week 1. He went 4-6 in Week 2 and 3-5 in Week 3 knowing Josh Cribbs brings the ball out no matter how deep in the end zone he might be. Potter went 3-4 against New England, but against San Francisco and Arizona he went a combined 1-5 dropping him to the 50% success rate.

Potter was seen taking extra kickoffs during practice this week. Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven did talk about staying above 50% on touchback to kickoffs this season.

“I want him to have those touchbacks,” said Gailey. “That’s why we hired him is to be able to kick the ball deep. We need more consistency from him.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills won’t always take touchback

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2011 – 8:27 am

As we featured on the home page of the new kickoff rule has robbed Brad Smith on return opportunities because opponents are just booting the ball through the back of the end zone or nine yards deep forcing Smith to take a knee. But Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven says they won’t necessarily take the touchback every time.

“Situations will change from game to game and kick to kick,” he said. “If we’re two touchdowns down then we might want to get something going on a return and bring it out. If you’re in a tie game and we don’t want to take a chance of starting from the 10-yard line.”

Smith is hopeful that the colder weather brings more opportunities as the wind and cold affects the flight and distance the ball travels, but isn’t banking on it.

“I’m just trying to prepare to return it at any point,” Smith told “A kicker might have a bad kick or they might have a guy that can’t get it back there. We’re just ready. We’re ready and we’re just going to make the best decisions for the football team.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

DeHaven’s USFL Hull story

Posted by Chris Brown on October 19, 2011 – 4:48 pm

Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven has one of the longest histories with Kent Hull, which stretches back to his USFL career with the New Jersey Generals.

“I knew Kent longer than any of these guys did,” said DeHaven. “He was a rookie in the USFL with the New Jersey Generals when I was coaching there.  He and I both walked out to the practice field together for our first professional practice. Back when I first saw him, he weighed about 245 lbs and was trying to play on the offensive line. I told him that they’d brought me down to camp for two weeks and he said coach, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make two weeks.’ He just was a tough guy, smart and competitive and I had no idea he was going to be as good as he was. Even then you can see that he had a lot of those qualities.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Top 10 rolls on with C.J.

Posted by Chris Brown on July 12, 2011 – 9:11 am

Our Top 10 Performance series from 2010 continues with part 7 today (Tuesday) with a special performance from Week 3.

C.J. Spiller’s two touchdown day is reviewed by both offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins and special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven from the Bills film room.

Be sure to check it out.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Fan Friday 8-27

Posted by Chris Brown on August 27, 2010 – 12:49 pm

Big preseason game test coming up Saturday night. Eager to see more progress from all three phases. As always questions can be sent to ( Let’s get going with this week’s edition.

1 – Hey Chris it kind of seems from a fans prospective so far that the bills staff intends to keep Levi brown as the 3rd option, is that the case or still a little early to say?  

Frank (Bills fan in dolphin country) Miami, FL

CB: First, my condolences for having to live amongst Dol-Fans (man that’s a lame term isn’t it?). With respect to the quarterback contingent I believe that Levi Brown will be carried on the 53-man roster. I think there is too much potential there to risk putting him on the practice squad.

Bills GM Buddy Nix in a recent interview on the Shredd and Ragan show (103.3 The Edge) up here in Buffalo confirmed that they’re only keeping three. My feeling is that Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick are likely the two QBs fighting for the one remaining spot. Brown will be the third QB, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be on the 53-man squad. 

2 – Chris,

Since Jackson’s injury seems to be longer term than Lynch, if Lynch performs well do you think he may become the feature back again? He has looked great in TC I hear, and if he is back to his 2008 form he could be in for a good season. I know some coaches stick with what works and if he is getting it done why fix it if its not broke. Your thoughts??


CB: I think anything is possible with respect to the so called number one role in the offensive backfield. As Chan Gailey has said, he doesn’t care about hurting people’s feelings, he cares about scoring points. Yes, Lynch had a good camp prior to the injury, but so did Jackson. Jackson is still shooting to be back by the opener, and I don’t count that guy out on anything he puts his mind to.

Personally I think if Jackson does come back by Sept. 12 that he’ll be getting the lion’s share of the rushing work.

3 – Chris,

This is the first time I have ever wrote to you about the Bills, but I ( like many other Bills fans) am getting extremly frustrated with the organization and its decision making process.  One question that has been bothering me is why wont the Bills trade Fred Jackson? 

We have a crowded back field and some decision needs to be made.  Jackson’s value is never going to be higher than it is right now!  He’s almost 30, and the Bills got him for practically nothing, so their return on their investment would be amazing.  I know he has had one season with over 1000 yards rushing, but Lynch has done it twice in 3 years.  In my opinion he would have reached that mark last year if he wasn’t suspended.  Lynch is a capable back that has been proven way before Jackson came along.  I guess my point is…we could trade him to get more draft picks in the upcoming draft, since we are committed to turning this organization around through the draft.  If need be trade Lynch as well to get more picks to solidify our lines!  That’s where football games are won anyway. Please let me know your thoughts!

Elbert.    Albany, NY


CB: Unfortunately you’re not the first person I’ve heard this line of logic from. While I completely respect the idea of dealing from a position of strength to fortify other areas of your team, the plan in 2010 is to lean very heavily on the running game. It’s shown great promise in the preseason and Chan Gailey has a history of success running the football.

Jackson can do everything well as evidenced by his season last year when he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and accumulate 1,000 kick return yards in a season. He also LED THE LEAGUE in combined yards from scrimmage. More than Chris Johnson, more than Josh Cribbs, more than everybody. In fact it was the fourth highest combined yardage total in NFL HISTORY.

So if you want to get rid of that guy I think you’re nuts. I say keep all three in the fold and pound the rock in 2010.

4 – Chris, I’d be interested in knowing if you think any of these players will be on the 53 man roster opening day.  Donovan Woods, John McCargo, Donald Jones, Ellis Lankster.  Also, what is the status of Easley & Wang?

Pete Howell


CB: I think Ed Wang is a lock despite his injury. Of the rest I believe Ellis Lankster has the best chance. Granted he didn’t have his best game against Indy in the preseason, but the fact is you can never have enough cornerbacks. If the Bills keep six corners, he’s the guy. Donovan Woods and Donald Jones are in the hunt. Marcus Easley’s season is over, he’s on I-R. As for John McCargo, he’s worked very hard to adjust to playing defensive end in a 3-4, but I think he’s caught in a numbers game at the position, and knowing the Bills are likely to keep just six defensive linemen, I think he could be on the outside looking in.

5 – Hi Chris,

After 2 pre-season games, the special teams performance has not been very good, particularly on kick/punt return coverage.  The tackling has been poor and it has resulted in some decent return yards for the opposition.  Do you think this is a reflection of the Bills trying out players who have not had experience playing special teams, a new scheme that the players are still learning under Bruce DeHaven or do you think this is a real cause for concern?  Also, in practices, do you think special teams is getting enough reps?


CB: There’s no question that coverage on kicks and punts has been a bit suspect. I discussed this with head coach Chan Gailey in a one-on-one setting and here’s the answer straight from the head coach’s mouth.

“We have people in the wrong places,” said Gailey. “We’ve got to get people in the right places and staying disciplined in their lanes. Some of that is because guys haven’t done it since they were freshmen in college.

“Preseason is about teaching those guys how to play on special teams that haven’t played there before. And we’re looking at a lot of guys on special teams to find out if they can help us or not.

“So you really don’t have your starting special teams units on the field like you do on offense and defense early in the game because you don’t know how many punt returns or kickoffs you’re going to get so you have to get those guys out there early in the preseason games.”

I believe the new scheme and some turnover have been contributing factors as well, but I’m confident Bruce DeHaven will have things humming come the regular season.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

DeHaven on SB onsides kick

Posted by Chris Brown on July 16, 2010 – 8:23 am

Bills special teams coach Bruce DeHaven, as he explained in our Countdown to Camp question 13 (Will special teams have a different approach?) is a bit conservative by nature. So it was interesting to hear his thoughts on Saints’ head coach Sean Payton’s decision to go with the onsides kick in the second half of the Super Bowl last February.

“I was not surprised at all,” said DeHaven. “Not surprised at all. I coached with Sean (Payton) for three years down in Dallas and I know his personality and I was not surprised at all that you got something like that from him.

“That’s the deal in this league, there are big risks and big rewards in those situations. He’s the goat if they don’t get the onsides kick and forever people are talking about what a bad decision that was to kick that onsides kick.”

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Posted in Inside the Bills

DeHaven on Saints onsides kick

Posted by Chris Brown on February 13, 2010 – 9:00 am

Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven was one of the few people that was not surprised to see the Saints take an onsides kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV.

“I was not surprised at all,” he said. “Not surprised at all. I coached with Sean (Payton) for three years down in Dallas and I know his personality and I was not surprised at all that you got something like that from him. That’s the deal in this league, there are big risks and big rewards in those situations.”

Of course DeHaven recognized the flip side of that coin had it not worked in the Saints favor, knowing down four they would’ve given the ball to Peyton Manning near midfield.

“He’s the goat if they don’t get the onsides kick,” said DeHaven of Payton. “And forever people are talking about what a bad decision that was to kick that onsides kick.”

Posted in Inside the Bills

Gailey comments on ST asst.

Posted by Chris Brown on February 11, 2010 – 5:18 pm

In addition to retaining assistant DeMontie Cross as inside linebackers coach, head coach Chan Gailey also commented on another new assistant.

“We seem to specialize in a lot of things in the game of football,” said Gailey. “In special teams, we hired Stan Kwan as our assistant special teams coordinator, he’s a former head guy himself.”

Kwan served the past three seasons as the special teams coach for the Detroit Lions.

Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven spoke about Kwan as well.

“It is not an exaggeration for me to say that if they allowed me to pick one guy to help me that it would’ve been Stan Kwan,” said DeHaven. “It was only about seven or eight weeks ago when I was butting heads with him in Seattle when we played Detroit.

“He’s an excellent football coach and he’s been a coordinator for several years. He’s worked as an assistant with a couple of guys that I have as much respect for as anybody I’ve ever coached against. It’s just going to be a great benefit to us in the kicking game.”

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Moorman credits good coaching

Posted by Chris Brown on February 2, 2010 – 5:43 pm

Bills punter Brian Moorman, who was named to the league’s All-Decade Team made sure to credit his coaches for his success.

“That’s part of the reason why I was chosen,” said Moorman. “I had good coaching the last nine seasons in Danny (Smith) and Bobby (April).”

Now Moorman will make another transition to new special teams coach Bruce DeHaven.

“I’m looking forward to working with him,” Moorman said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about him from Steve Christie, Chris Mohr and Steve Tasker.”

Every time a player has a new position coach there is a feeling out process, but having been through it before and being an established player Moorman is confident they’ll be able to get on the same page quickly.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had to,” said Moorman of getting used to a new position coach after having Bobby April the past six seasons. “Normally whenever a coach inherits a veteran, they’re normally hands off when what you’ve been doing has been working. We’ll pick each other’s brain and find out what works for him and what works for me.”

DeHaven is in a good position to succeed quickly under Chan Gailey with a veteran kicker and punter as well as proven return talent and an up and coming long snapper.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Unique asset for DeHaven

Posted by Chris Brown on February 1, 2010 – 11:54 am

Bills punter Brian Moorman has been through coaching changes before as the most tenured player on the roster. He’s also had two different special teams coaches in Danny Smith and Bobby April. With a new position coach coming in there’s usually a bit of uncertainty with what kind of approach they’ll have, but Moorman does feel good about one particular area of expertise with new special teams coach Bruce DeHaven.

“I know a lot about him just from talking to guys like Steve Tasker, Steve Christie and Chris Mohr and those guys, and they all speak highly of him so I look forward to working with him,” Moorman told “But most important is since he coached here for 13 years he knows the weather here and the stadium and he know what to expect and the adjustments we have to make to remain effective in it.”

Moorman in his time as a punter has run across special teams coaches that take the blind approach of telling their punter to “just kick it.” He knows with a veteran special teams coach like DeHaven, who also has knowledge of the wind patterns in the stadium as well as how the weather in Buffalo can impact a game, that they’ll be that much further ahead heading into offseason workouts. 

Even coach Gailey mentioned DeHaven’s knowledge of conditions in Ralph Wilson Stadium, which are unique, as an asset.

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Posted in Inside the Bills

Report: DeHaven back as spec. teams coach

Posted by Chris Brown on January 29, 2010 – 1:52 pm

According to a report from WIVB-TV in Buffalo, Bills former special teams coach Bruce DeHaven is returning to Buffalo for a second coaching stint.

DeHaven has spent the last three seasons as special teams coach in Seattle and has also made stops in San Francisco and Dallas since his final season with Buffalo in 1999. He began his NFL coaching career with the Bills under Marv Levy in 1987 and was part of the staff for 13 seasons including all four Super Bowl appearances.

Posted in Inside the Bills
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