It was a year to forget for the Buffalo Bills special teams units in many respects...
Dan Carpenter missed six extra points. They never settled on a returner. And turnovers and penalties plagued Buffalo at inopportune times.
Yet in the Dallas Morning News' annual special teams rankings, Danny Crossman's group actually finished in the middle of the pack league-wide. Veteran NFL writer Rick Gosselin ranks all 32 teams across 22 kicking-game categories. Points are then assigned to each category. The Bills 16th overall with 357 points.
How did they do it? Despite Carpenter's malaise and no stability returning punts/kicks themselves, the Bills forced opponents to start deep in their own end most of the season.
Buffalo, which carried a kickoff specialist in Jordan Gay, allowed the fewest kickoff yards in the NFL (17.2). And the Bills also finished No. 1 in opponent's averaging starting point (19.9 yard line).
In addition to this the Bills tied with the Tennessee Titans for the most takeaways in the NFL (four).
Punter Colton Schmidt finished seventh in the NFL with a net average of 41.3 yards
This could all explain why head coach Rex Ryan hasn't fired Crossman, a coach from the previous regime. Despite some glaring issues in some spots, his coverage units were solid. The longest kick return the team had all year was only 32 yards, Carpenter struggled to the point of bashing his helmet onto the turf in Week 17, there were no dynamic punt returns and a Leodis McKelvin fumble at New England proved costly. Buffalo's quality controls coach on special teams, Michael Hamlin, will not return.