Buffalo Bills All-Drought Specialists & Coaches
Two weeks ago, I came out with my Buffalo Bills All-Drought Offense. Last week, it was the defense. This week, the final week of the series, it’s the All-Drought Special Teams and Coaching Staff. Even though these positions are the furthest from the skilled positions, these players were actually some of the best players during the drought. I remember many years as a young kid where I would legit think that the punter and the kicker were the team MVPs… So with that, here are the final members of the All-Drought squad.
Punter: Brian Moorman
Arguably the best punter in Bills history, Brian Moorman is second all-time in franchise history with a gross average of 43.7 yards/punt. Only Colton Schmidt (2014-18) has a better average with an even 44 yards, but Moorman had 123 more games to work with. In almost 13 complete seasons with the Bills, Moorman punted 923 times for 40,370 yards. He earned Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors twice each. His longest career punt was an 84-yard bomb in 2002, which is still a team record.
Amazingly enough, he only had two punts blocked in his entire career out of 979 attempts. On top of this, Moorman was quite the trickster; he could pull off a fake punt, fake field goal, or even a drop kick. (And no, there aren’t eight weeks until kickoff – this tweet is from last year. But there are 13 weeks in case you were wondering!)
Kicker: Rian Lindell
Another specialist who was consistently in the running for Team MVP (in my eyes), Rian Lindell ranks second all-time in franchise history with 980 points in 152 games. He is sandwiched between Steve Christie (1,011 points in 144 games) and Scott Norwood (670 points in 108 games). In 10 years with the Bills, Lindell scored over 100 points six times, made 83.3% of his field goals, and only missed one extra point in 306 attempts. While he may not have had the strongest leg (he was 13-24 from 50+ yards with Buffalo), Lindell made almost 95% of his field goals under 40 yards, including many game-winners.
Long Snapper: Mike Schneck
To be completely honest, the only long snapper I could remember before Reid Ferguson was Garrison Sanborn. Sanborn endured eight years of the drought and was a solid long snapper for the Bills. However, while Mike Schneck was here for just two years (‘05-‘06), he made the Pro Bowl in 2005. That year, Moorman was a Pro Bowler and named First Team All-Pro and Lindell scored 113 points. Considering the production from the specialists that year, Schneck gets the nod here.
Kick Returner: Terrence McGee
Terrence McGee was one of my first favorite Buffalo Bills players growing up because of how electric and dangerous he was as a returner. Anytime he had the ball in his hands, you knew he could… go… all… the… way.
He handled kick return duties in seven of his 10 years with Buffalo. In that span, McGee returned 207 kicks for 5,450 yards, giving him a whopping 26.3 yards/return average. He also returned a franchise best five kickoffs for touchdowns, a record that won’t be broken anytime soon. His best seasons came in 2004 and 2005.
In ’04, McGee led the league with three kickoff return touchdowns and had the longest return in the league (104 yards). He also averaged 26.3 yards/return that season. In ’05, McGee led the NFL again in yards/return average (30.2) and had the longest kick return (a 99-yard TD).
Punt Returner: Roscoe Parrish
Another one of my favorite players due to his speed, Roscoe Parrish, as former GM Buddy Nix would say, ran like his hair was on fire. In seven seasons with the Bills, Parrish returned 135 punts for 1,622 yards (12.0 yards/return) and a then-franchise record three touchdowns. His 12 yards/return average is the highest in franchise history for any punt returner with over 25 attempts. Ironically, he had better numbers as a punt returner than he did as a wide receiver, which was his main position. From 2005-2011, Parrish caught 134 passes for 1,502 yards (11.2 yards/catch) and seven TDs.
KR & PR Honorable Mention: Leodis McKelvin
The reason I said Parrish’s three punt return touchdowns were a “then-franchise record” was because Leodis McKelvin tied it in 2012. McKelvin played in Buffalo from 2008-2015. While he had some ball security issues at times, McKelvin did put up some impressive numbers that shouldn’t go unnoticed. In his eight seasons, he returned 99 punts for 1,021 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned 95 kicks for 2,471 yards and a touchdown. His 10.3 yards/punt return and 26.0 yards/kick return averages are both in the top tier of Buffalo’s all-time rankings.
Head Coach: Doug Marrone
As much as it pains me to say this, Doug Marrone was probably the best head coach during the drought. Marrone opted out of his contract and took a $4 million buyout after just his second season with the Bills in 2014. It was a shame (at the time) because it seemed like the Bills were finally onto something. They went 6-10 in 2013 for the third consecutive year, but improved to 9-7 the following year and almost squeaked into the playoffs. Then, out of nowhere, Marrone took the money and walked out of the door. Then came Rex Ryan (and I think we all know how that went).
Surprisingly though, Ryan is the winningest coach during the drought era (win percentage wise). In less than two seasons, Ryan posted a 15-16 (.484) record before getting fired after Week 16 of the 2016 season. In two full seasons, Marrone’s record was 15-17 (.469). Even though Rex is technically the winningest drought coach, he had way more talent to work with (in my opinion) and had one game in hand on Marrone. (They probably would have the same percentage if he lasted through Week 17.)
As for the other coaches… Gregg Williams (2001-2003) went 17-31, Dick Jauron (2006-2009) went 24-33, Perry Fewell was 3-4 as the interim coach in 2009, Chan Gailey went 16-32 from 2010-2012, and Anthony Lynn was 0-1 as the interim in 2016. Mike Mularkey had the second-best drought season in 2004, when he led the Bills to a 9-7 record. However, he followed that up with a 5-11 record in 2005 before ultimately resigning after the season.
Offensive Coordinator: Anthony Lynn
After never being able to find the right offensive coordinator during the drought, the Bills finally (somewhat) found an offensive genius in Anthony Lynn. Lynn was only OC for 13 games. (He started the season as the assistant head coach and running backs coach, replaced Greg Roman as OC after Week 2, and then replaced Rex Ryan as HC for Week 17.)
While the Buffalo Bills had a pretty poor passing offense (ranked 30th in the league), Lynn knew how to utilize what he had on his roster. Led by Lesean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor, the Bills finished with the number one rushing attack in the league in 2016 which balanced out their passing game, giving the Bills the 16th best total offense in the league. They also averaged 24.9 points per game that season, which ranked 10th in the league. The problem was, they couldn’t stop anyone on defense (as I’ll explain more in the next paragraph). Right after the season, Lynn was hired as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Schwartz
I think one of Rex Ryan’s biggest mistakes as head coach of the Bills was not retaining Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator in 2015. His winning percentage probably would’ve significantly increased if he decided not to strip down a top-5 defense and bring in his own scheme, coordinator (Dennis Thurman), and players. Even though the Bills had the number one defense this past season, that 2014 defense is still my favorite Buffalo Bills defense to date.
Buffalo led the league with 54 sacks that season. Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Marcell Dareus, and Kyle Williams combined for 40 sacks alone; (Mario) Williams, Hughes, and Dareus each had double-digit sack seasons. Kyle, Mario, and Dareus each made the Pro Bowl, while the latter two were also named First Team All-Pros. The Bills finished that season ranked as the fourth overall defense in the league (312.2 yards/game allowed), fourth in points allowed (18.1 points/game), and third in takeaways (30). As much as I wanted Schwartz to be back as Buffalo’s DC in 2015, I was hoping that they would hire him to be the head coach after Marrone left. I seriously wonder where the franchise would’ve been if the Bills retained Marrone and Schwartz… or at least Schwartz.
That wraps up my Buffalo Bills All-Drought Team! Even though there were a lot of dark years of football during my childhood, there were also a ton of bright players and memories. Some of my fondest Bills memories came from those drought years. I think the fact that the Buffalo Bills are so good now helps us appreciate those drought years even more. If the Bills never drafted Josh Allen, and we were going on 23 years without making the playoffs, this article wouldn’t carry the same weight. But Allen and the rest of the current guys help us to appreciate the older guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick even more than we already did. I would be very intrigued to watch this All-Drought team take the field if they were all in their prime.