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BILLS' Special Teams


Alaska Darin
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Yesterday probably wasn't the best day to highlight how much better they've been this season but there's no question it's been better than it was last season.  Football Outsiders ranks them 5th in DVOA.

 

https://theathletic.com/2250861/2020/12/10/tyler-matakevich-bills-special-teams/?article_source=search&search_query=heath farwell (Subscription required)

 

[Snip}

Fast forward a few months, and McDermott and Brandon Beane are devising a plan for free agency. They want to back up their words about the importance of special teams. So they tell Farwell, “Put together a wish list.”

 

Farwell sits down to write his list, and he doesn’t have much trouble figuring out where to start.

 

No. 1. Tyler Matakevich.

 

Beane acts quickly, signing Matakevich to a two-year, $7.15 million contract on the first day of free agency. Pittsburgh media wonders if there’s been a clerical error. The Bills paid how much for a backup linebacker? Matakevich didn’t expect to go anywhere, but the financial commitment from Buffalo is too much to pass up.

 

As Beane explains the move, he makes one thing clear.

“We just felt special teams … is something that we weren’t good enough (at),” Beane says. “We had improved from the year before, but not good enough to be elite. … Matakevich was just a real ass kicker on special teams.”

[/Snip]

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Huh,  some people wondered if he'd be back next year. I guess so!
 

</snip>
 

Rookie kicker Tyler Bass says Matakevich brings the energy to the kickoff unit. He’s always asking Bass where he’s going to put the ball so he knows exactly what route to take to the return man. And he never wants Bass putting it in the end zone.
 

“He’s a dog,” Bass says. “He’s one of those guys on kickoff, he wants me not to kick it in the end zone. He just wants to be around the ball. He flies to the ball.”
 

</snip>
 

The way Matakevich looks at it, special teams players get a limited amount of snaps to make an impact. Why not put everything he has into each one? Why not throw every ounce of his body into every block and tackle?
 

“That’s just the nature of the game,” Matakevich says. “You want to be out there scoring touchdowns, getting sacks and interceptions. But some guys have to do the dirty work, too. I love everything about it. I just want to be out there, running around trying to hit people.”
 

Matakevich admits he’s had this Steelers game circled on his calendar since he signed his contract in Buffalo. It’s a chance to show the Steelers what they walked away from, just like it was against UConn in his first college start. He feels like that’s been fueling him since he walked onto campus at Milford Academy. Every Friday night lifting session, every early morning wake-up call, every Oklahoma Drill led him here.
 

</snip>

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Gonna need the Special Teams firing on all cylinders the next three weeks. There are no easy games on the docket. Maybe Farwell will have a little talk with Robert’s about the need to judiciously take a knee in the end zone instead of running it out and setting up a first and ten from the seven yard line. 

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leh-nerd skin-erd
25 minutes ago, Nanker said:

Gonna need the Special Teams firing on all cylinders the next three weeks. There are no easy games on the docket. Maybe Farwell will have a little talk with Robert’s about the need to judiciously take a knee in the end zone instead of running it out and setting up a first and ten from the seven yard line. 

Roberts on the whole has been excellent obviously.  The decision to return the ball early was a head scratcher.  Looked like he caught the ball 5 or 6 yards deep, we had been struggling with field position early on. Maybe he was trying to draw the non-penalized face mask?  
 

 

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1 hour ago, leh-nerd skin-erd said:

Roberts on the whole has been excellent obviously.  The decision to return the ball early was a head scratcher.  Looked like he caught the ball 5 or 6 yards deep, we had been struggling with field position early on. Maybe he was trying to draw the non-penalized face mask?  
 

 

That's a good point. There are ways to draw a facemask. We had a RB coach in HS that was good at it. As a carrier when you bury your face in to a tacklers bicep area or forearm you can draw one when shifting away because they'll instinctually try to traps on to you.

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I posted this in the Bojo thread a week ago, and it belongs here too.

 

In a season full of mea culpas, I'll offer another to Heath Farwell. 

 

I was livid that McDermott essentially used 2019 as Farwell's on-the-job training period, and Bills easily lost 2-3 games to ST miscues last year.   He surely turned that around in 2020, exemplified by the fake punt Vs Pastsies*.   Great job all around for the unit this year.

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2 hours ago, GG1 said:

I posted this in the Bojo thread a week ago, and it belongs here too.

 

In a season full of mea culpas, I'll offer another to Heath Farwell. 

 

I was livid that McDermott essentially used 2019 as Farwell's on-the-job training period, and Bills easily lost 2-3 games to ST miscues last year.   He surely turned that around in 2020, exemplified by the fake punt Vs Pastsies*.   Great job all around for the unit this year.

I don't think special teams coaching was the problem last season.  When you go out and get specialized players like Jones and Matakevich, then put starters like Poyer and Hyde out there regularly...you're pretty much admitting you just didn't have enough good players out there.

 

Farewell was almost exclusively a special teams player and was very good at it.  He might not be able to coach the kicking intricacies but he has a ton of credibility and is probably far more respected by the players than someone like Danny Crossman.

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leh-nerd skin-erd
3 hours ago, Boyst said:

That's a good point. There are ways to draw a facemask. We had a RB coach in HS that was good at it. As a carrier when you bury your face in to a tacklers bicep area or forearm you can draw one when shifting away because they'll instinctually try to traps on to you.

Good Lord man, a high school coach teaching ways to get your neck wrung?  There may be issues with HS sports. :soapbox:

 

In Pop Warner, one of my son's friends was QB.  He's not a huge kid, but athletic and a good athlete.  His dad is a longtime Skins fan, and a pretty good student of X and Os.   This team ran the option quite a bit, and at times it was quite successful.  I wandered up to chat with the dad after one pretty good gain after the pitch--he was off to himself at the top of the bleachers looking upset.  "Jesus :tape: Christ, they're going to get my son killed out there.  The whole idea is to draw the defenseman to you before pitching--he's getting hammered on every play.".  

 

After the game, the ref came by and said hello--knew him since high school.  He commented how tough is son was and asked if he was at all concerned with the all hits he was taking.  My pal talked to the coach, uh, with some passion and the option went bye bye.  

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Alaska Darin said:

I don't think special teams coaching was the problem last season.  When you go out and get specialized players like Jones and Matakevich, then put starters like Poyer and Hyde out there regularly...you're pretty much admitting you just didn't have enough good players out there.

 

Farewell was almost exclusively a special teams player and was very good at it.  He might not be able to coach the kicking intricacies but he has a ton of credibility and is probably far more respected by the players than someone like Danny Crossman.

 

It was more than not having the ST players.  The units looked confused in many games, missed their assignments, were penalized on nearly every ST snap, and had awful situational awareness.   There was a clear lack of detail in the unit coached by a guy whose forte was supposed to be attention to detail.

 

All water under the bridge, because he obviously fixed the wrongs.

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https://billswire.usatoday.com/2020/01/20/buffalo-bills-improvement-rick-gosselin-special-teams-2019-heath-farwell/

 

"Bills were the league-leader (2019) with only 10 special teams penalties for 88 total yards."

 

https://buffalonews.com/sports/bills/bolstering-of-core-special-teams-roster-lifts-heath-farwells-outlook/article_758b1530-dff7-11ea-a87d-575e36e0dba2.html

 

Last in the league to 12th in 2019.  5 of the top 7 contributors plus DiMarco replaced with Klein, Matakevich, Johnson, Hyde, Poyer, etc in 2020.

Edited by Alaska Darin
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1 hour ago, Alaska Darin said:

I don't think special teams coaching was the problem last season.  When you go out and get specialized players like Jones and Matakevich, then put starters like Poyer and Hyde out there regularly...you're pretty much admitting you just didn't have enough good players out there.

 

Oh, and they drafted this kid named Bass for special teams.

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