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Think special teams may make difference this year


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#1 BillsWatch

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 10:02 PM

When you are implementing new schemes on offense and defense with a large turnover in players I think it is likely that special teams plays, good and bad, can make a big difference in overall win-loss record.  Into this is inserted Danny Crossman, special teams coach for Panthers and Lions last 8 years.   Good special teams can provide a spark to teams on the ropes and bad special teams can cost teams games.

In 2009 Carolina was ranked 32 by Dallas Morning News's annual Special Teams rankings.
(Danny Crossman left Carolina to go coach same position at Detroit)
Interestingly his profile is still on Carolina Website:
http://www.panthers....55-01037360b31a

in 2012, Crossman's last year at Detroit, his special teams unit allowed a punt return and a touchdown in the same game against a division rival (Vikings) on September 30th against the Lions.  If that occurred against the Bills there would be a very log thread saying the coach should have been fired after the game, season, etc.

Special teams performance has to do with a lot of factors - kickers, holder, special teams specialists and how much time coaches devote to special teams.  Some coaches (i.e. Marv Levy) always included special teams practices including starters throughout the year.  Other coaches appear to use special teams as a way to give patronage jobs out (i.e. Danny Smith who had no special teams coaching experience but was friend of coach).

Crossman has experience with special teams but performance has been sporadic.  He is not known for innovation in special teams.   Do not watch college football so have no idea if Marrone just mouths the saying 'Special teams are one third of the game", does not even bother trying to convince others that he considers special teams important or actually believes saying.  He did state that he plans to have game-planning input and game day access in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams.

Crossman's teams were 30 (Detroit 2012), 31 (Detroit 2011), 15 (Detroit 2010) and 32 (Carolina 2009).  Could not find earlier ratings from RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News.  I may drop a line to him suggesting a column showing graph of special teams rankings changes with marks for coaching changes.

A cook can only do so much with a recipe based upon ingredients.  For ingredients there is a top of line snapper, a great kick blocker, a 2nd year punter who did not produce a lot last year, a kicker competition and several kick returners with explosive performances before.  Not a lot of experience in gunners or block breaking.    Even with these deficiencies the Bills manged to have a ranking of 8 last year.

This 'feels' like more of a Greg Williams hire of a friend than the best possible candidate hire.

#2 San Jose Bills Fan

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 10:07 PM

Obviously the most dubious of the coaching hires.

Also, Marrone and Crossman go way back so there's that too.

The only thing that I could think of as a possible defense of Crossman is that a special teams coach is only as good as his head coach allows him to be.

In other words special teams coaches are constrained by how much practice time they are allowed and which players they are allowed. If a head coach doesn't put proper importance on special teams (Wade Phillips anyone?) then that special teams coach is likely doomed to fail.

I'm not saying this is the reason for Crossman's mediocre track record… I'm saying that it could possibly be a reason.

#3 ganesh

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:14 AM

The Special Teams is a big question mark.  However, our previous ST coach was not any good. It appeared that DeHaven had lost his golden touch from the 90s and merely was playing defense.   Of course, the track record of Crossman is piss poor too.  Time will tell if we will get improved play or not.  Our coverage teams sucked big time last year,

#4 Chandler#81

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:49 AM

Here's what Crossman inherits; a 2nd year punter with an odd and, IMO, dangerous technique -dropping the ball point-down vs a flat drop. You can slightly mis-hit a flat drop and still get a decent punt off. If you slightly miss a point-down drop, the ball is rolling around the punters' feet..; Game breaking kick off and punt returners; Very capable long snapper; under-rated kick blockers. Pretty sure no team has blocked more kicks than the Bills in the last few years.

What has to be determined is a Place Kicker, a PK holder, blocking schemes and kick blocking schemes -and this is where Crossman's dubious distinction is derived from..

#5 The Tomcat

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:55 AM

Hopefully with the new rules our kicker will be able to get touchbacks and it will shield a bit of his apparent
deficiencies.

Special teams, while very important, is losing its past impact on the game in the name of "safety."

#6 hondo in seattle

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:47 AM

Yeah, I like Marrone.  I like his resume.  I like the messages he's been sending.  But the Crossman hire stinks of cronyism.

Here's an excerpt from  a recent BN article about Marrone and his coaching history:

That led to a job as offensive line aide at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, coached by Bill Schmitz, who had coached with the Monarchs.
“He offered me the job, and it might have been $7,000 a year,” Marrone said. “I took it. He was shocked. He made me sign a napkin. That was my first coaching contract, on a napkin at some restaurant in New London, Conn.”

Marrone immediately cut his salary in half, giving $3,500 to good friend and former Monarchs teammate Danny Crossman to join the Coast Guard staff. Crossman is now the Bills’ special teams coach.

http://www.buffalone...ills-drive-1004

Crossman and Marrone go way back and maybe Marrone feels he owes Crossman a chance.  But as the old saying goes, the best predictor of future success is past success.  Crossman doesn't have a lot of past success and it won't excite me to see him on the Bills sideline.

#7 The Cincinnati Kid

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:07 AM

I think Fred Jackson could be a top candidate for holder.

#8 Cash

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:19 AM

View PostSan Jose Bills Fan, on 17 July 2013 - 10:07 PM, said:

Obviously the most dubious of the coaching hires.

Also, Marrone and Crossman go way back so there's that too.

The only thing that I could think of as a possible defense of Crossman is that a special teams coach is only as good as his head coach allows him to be.

In other words special teams coaches are constrained by how much practice time they are allowed and which players they are allowed. If a head coach doesn't put proper importance on special teams (Wade Phillips anyone?) then that special teams coach is likely doomed to fail.

I'm not saying this is the reason for Crossman's mediocre track record… I'm saying that it could possibly be a reason.

Fair point.  However, SU's special teams were typically quite poor under Marrone, and appeared to be very low on the practice totem pole.  I don't recall if he ever had a coach on staff whose sole job was special teams, but if he did, it was only 1 year, maybe 2 at the most.  I know Marrone coached special teams himself one year, and I believe the D-coordinator coached them another year.  I think another year, special teams were divided among 3 different assistant coaches.  

In other words, I am expecting some BAD special teams from the Bills this year.  Depending on who returns kicks, that could still be exciting though.  I don't know how much a coach can screw up a dynamic kick returner.

#9 BillsWatch

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:39 PM

It smells like cronyism to me as well especially when he was not even willing to interview current coaches.  i went out and researched trying to determine whether perhaps I was giving Crossman a bum rap but the more I looked, the more I found issue with hire.  Other than being connected to our new head coach I can not see any reason for hire. This is the part of his hiring and staffing effort which irritated me which has prevented me from drinking the koolaid.

#10 San Jose Bills Fan

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 06:32 PM

View PostCash, on 18 July 2013 - 11:19 AM, said:

Fair point.  However, SU's special teams were typically quite poor under Marrone, and appeared to be very low on the practice totem pole.  I don't recall if he ever had a coach on staff whose sole job was special teams, but if he did, it was only 1 year, maybe 2 at the most.  I know Marrone coached special teams himself one year, and I believe the D-coordinator coached them another year.  I think another year, special teams were divided among 3 different assistant coaches.  

In other words, I am expecting some BAD special teams from the Bills this year.  Depending on who returns kicks, that could still be exciting though.  I don't know how much a coach can screw up a dynamic kick returner.

It seems like you're supporting my point that special teams will be bad if the head coach makes them a low priority.

Anyways, hopefully Marrone gives enough practice time and players for Crossman to be successful.

And hopefully Crossman knows what he's doing.

So far there's little proof of that.

#11 K-9

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:01 PM

View PostChandler#81, on 18 July 2013 - 06:49 AM, said:

Here's what Crossman inherits; a 2nd year punter with an odd and, IMO, dangerous technique -dropping the ball point-down vs a flat drop. You can slightly mis-hit a flat drop and still get a decent punt off. If you slightly miss a point-down drop, the ball is rolling around the punters' feet..; Game breaking kick off and punt returners; Very capable long snapper; under-rated kick blockers. Pretty sure no team has blocked more kicks than the Bills in the last few years.

What has to be determined is a Place Kicker, a PK holder, blocking schemes and kick blocking schemes -and this is where Crossman's dubious distinction is derived from..

Interesting point about that rugby style punt we are seeing more and more of these days. It seems guys are using it strictly for short-field punts vs. when they need to get off a boomer. Does Powell use it all the time? I'd be surprised. Seems a ball kicked on its point isn't gonna go much past 40 yards no matter how hard it's struck and then there's the matter of those types of punts having a tendency to bounce back toward the punting team. That's nice when the ball lands on the five but not cool outside the 20s.

GO BILLS!!!

#12 3rdand12

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:47 PM

View Posthondo in seattle, on 18 July 2013 - 07:47 AM, said:

Yeah, I like Marrone.  I like his resume.  I like the messages he's been sending.  But the Crossman hire stinks of cronyism.

Here's an excerpt from  a recent BN article about Marrone and his coaching history:

That led to a job as offensive line aide at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, coached by Bill Schmitz, who had coached with the Monarchs.
“He offered me the job, and it might have been $7,000 a year,” Marrone said. “I took it. He was shocked. He made me sign a napkin. That was my first coaching contract, on a napkin at some restaurant in New London, Conn.”

Marrone immediately cut his salary in half, giving $3,500 to good friend and former Monarchs teammate Danny Crossman to join the Coast Guard staff. Crossman is now the Bills’ special teams coach.

http://www.buffalone...ills-drive-1004

Crossman and Marrone go way back and maybe Marrone feels he owes Crossman a chance.  But as the old saying goes, the best predictor of future success is past success.  Crossman doesn't have a lot of past success and it won't excite me to see him on the Bills sideline.
This link is the point of the hire , his relationship with Marrone.

Cronyism only applies if it is self centered i think.

I read a couple other bits that make me think Marrone has a very high confidence level in the man.
I suppose he will be a good fit and follow Dougs direction. Used to really question this hire but i am pretty cool with it now.
especially reflecting on all his coaches and why he picked them particular.
Let's give Danny a shot . He has some talent to work with in my opinion. especially at the nuts and bolts players. But some real potential excitement too. That kid Goodwin might be a play maker on ST returns

Edited by 3rdand12, 18 July 2013 - 07:48 PM.


#13 Thurmal34

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 10:52 PM

View Posthondo in seattle, on 18 July 2013 - 07:47 AM, said:

Marrone immediately cut his salary in half, giving $3,500 to good friend and former Monarchs teammate Danny Crossman to join the Coast Guard staff. Crossman is now the Bills’ special teams coach.
I'm as excited about Marrone as the next guy, but when I read this, it worried me. Shades of that mullet Wade defended that got him fired...Ronnie Jones?

#14 ganesh

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 05:39 AM

View PostBillsWatch, on 18 July 2013 - 03:39 PM, said:

It smells like cronyism to me as well especially when he was not even willing to interview current coaches.  i went out and researched trying to determine whether perhaps I was giving Crossman a bum rap but the more I looked, the more I found issue with hire.  Other than being connected to our new head coach I can not see any reason for hire. This is the part of his hiring and staffing effort which irritated me which has prevented me from drinking the koolaid.

May be Maronne felt that our past coaching staff was a big problem with the players not performing up to expectations.  May be he chose to not keep incumbents so that the team can get a *FRESH* start.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Should he have considered interviewing other ST candidates (besides the incumbent).  Probably yes.  Was it Mandatory...No.

#15 eball

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 05:56 AM

View PostThurmal34, on 18 July 2013 - 10:52 PM, said:

I'm as excited about Marrone as the next guy, but when I read this, it worried me. Shades of that mullet Wade defended that got him fired...Ronnie Jones?

The key difference being Ronnie Jones had never coached ST in his life.  At least Crossman is "experienced" at the job.  I agree with what others have written, though -- this was far and away Marrone's most dubious hire.  The Bills have a lot of talented returners, however -- hopefully even a bad ST coach can't eff that up.

#16 Cash

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 08:53 AM

View PostSan Jose Bills Fan, on 18 July 2013 - 06:32 PM, said:

It seems like you're supporting my point that special teams will be bad if the head coach makes them a low priority.

Anyways, hopefully Marrone gives enough practice time and players for Crossman to be successful.

And hopefully Crossman knows what he's doing.

So far there's little proof of that.

Correct.  And continuing on to say that Marrone's history as head coach is one of de-emphasizing special teams.  So even the one (possible) excuse for our special teams coach's poor track record will probably be irrelevant in this case.  But who knows?  I'm sure Marrone has learned a lot from his first 4 years of HC experience.  Maybe "special teams need to be a higher priority" will be one of them.