Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman had two main tasks in focus upon his arrival to the Buffalo Bills this season: Improve a punt unit that gave up the most yards per attempt last season, and keep the dominance of the return game a main part of the team's game plan.
Things didn't go completely as planned.
The Bills' return game, which was ranked first and fourth in punt and kick return average last year, respectively, did a 180 this season. The squad finished 29th in both categories under Crossman, and it failed to convert a single touchdown in either category after tallying three combined scores last year.
Returner Leodis McKelvin, who made opposing kick units look silly at times in 2012, didn't come close to the success he had a year ago. After knocking on the doorstep of the all-time record for punt return yards per attempt, McKelvin eventually finished at 18.7 yards per try (10th all time).
This year, he mustered only 5.6 yards an attempt.
On the plus side (sort of), Buffalo's punt team slightly improved in its coverage this season, going from being ranked dead last a year ago to 25th. While the yardage wasn't much different due to an uptick in the amount of punts the Bills had this year (fourth most), the average per return was much improved.
Most of that credit, however, goes to veteran punter Brian Moorman, who, as Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com pointed out Wednesday, turned those numbers around after the dismissal of Shawn Powell and pulled the team out a funk similar to what had occurred the season before.
And according to that same veteran, his coach deserves another year to prove his worth.
"I think he did a good job," Moorman said via buffalobills.com. "He’s coming to a new team and putting in a new scheme.
"I think just having one more year under his belt with another full offseason and training camp, he’s got good schemes and I think we’ve got good players. I don’t think you can base it off one or two returns. I think we’ve had a good year."
While Crossman had his up-and-down years in Carolina early in his career, his three years with Detroit before joining the Bills were largely forgettable, particularly 2012.
Crossman's kick units allowed four combined touchdowns and converted zero in the return game. In fact, the Lions' special teams squad scored only one touchdown in Crossman's three years there, compared to the eight it allowed.