As the Bills’ roster quietly improves, the team’s special teams could truly become, well, special.
Tim Graham of the Buffalo News explains that improved depth not only means greater competition for starting jobs and playing time on offense and defense, but also could translate to a higher quality of performer on special teams.
Graham points out that, in 2011, the Bills ranked 23rd on kickoff returns and 22nd in net punting yards with an average of 38.1.
The good news is that the Bills had the top kickoff coverage unit in 2011, allowing only 20.4 yards per return. The less-good news is that they also had the third-worst touchback ratio with 24.1 percent, a weakness they addressed by using a draft pick on kickoff specialist John Potter.
Also, the Bills finished third in the NFL with a 12.7-yard average on punt returns. Skewing that number, however, is the fact that the Bills returned only 26 punts, lowest in the league, and Leodis McKelvin took one of them 80 yards for a score.
So with the roster generally better and with enhanced competition pushing players to work harder, the guy to benefit the most could be special-teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven.
And with the offense potent and the defense improving, a possible bump in the performance of the special teams gives Bills fans yet another reason to hope that this year could be the year that a 12-year playoff drought ends.