by Pat Freeman
This season so far has seen a much improved team effort by the Buffalo Bills as they prepare to take on the San Diego Chargers this Sunday. Many ask what is the difference in this year and last year? Well management and the coaches have adopted a philosophy of desperate circumstances, require extreme coaching decisions. Yes Coach Doug Marrone is doing something that most NFL coaches try not to do. He is playing his best players on all special teams units with the hope of changing games. Most of NFL teams special teams players are back ups, not the 2014 Buffalo Bills. Coach Marrone realizes with a new owner it’s a pull all stops out approach to win games, and so far it’s working. I have not seen this approach to special teams in my twenty years of covering the NFL, but as long as there are no serious injuries I don’t think you will hear any complaints. The moment one of his starters gets hurt on special teams is when the media will begin its attack on this all or nothing coaching approach by Doug Marrone.
Last year Coach Marrone defended his special team’s coach by saying that the lack of quality players hurt the performance of the special team’s unit. The antidote this year is too put starters on special team’s improving their performance but also putting the risk of injuring a key starter playing special teams.
The argument about this can be seen from two perspectives for example CJ Spiller is the starting running back but he only averages between 15- 20 carries a game. The load of the running game is split up so including him in special teams is a risk that the Bills are willing to take because Sunday it paid off with a 102 yard kick return. This is a long season and we will have to pay attention to the health of many of our starters that are now playing special teams in conjunction with their regular offensive duties. For now I would have to say that our special team’s have been major contributors in the hometown team starting off at 2-0.
This week could be the greatest test yet for the Bills as they take on a very strong San Diego Chargers team in Ralph Wilson Stadium. This game will be won by our ability to run the football and control the clock, and we must improve our red zone offense to be successful against a team that can put points on the board. Also our defensive front must dominate the line of scrimmage to make sure that quarterback Philip Rivers never has a comfort zone in the pocket.
Buffalo- 24- San Diego 21
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