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Special Teams Coach?


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Editor's note: For six years, I have written the Unsung Heroes column during the season to bring attention to the people behind the scenes that help make some of the extraordinary things happen in the NFL on any given weekend. At the end of the year, the Unsung Hero of the Year is presented a trophy made in the name of Chip Myers, a longtime NFL assistant coach and former player who passed away a few years ago just days after he was elevated to his first coordinator position with the Minnesota Vikings. Chip was well respected by everyone in the coaching ranks and embodied all the virtues assistant coaches need to be successful. He was humble, a good teacher, a loyal friend and a tireless worker.)

6. Danny Smith, special teams coach for the Buffalo Bills . Head coach Gregg Williams has been fired, the offense fell apart as the season went on and the defense played at a high level prior to the 31 points they gave up in the season finale. Smith's special teams finished the year as a top 10 kickoff coverage unit, a top five punting unit and basically did a solid job most of the season with average players.

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He's got a very uneven resume. He was the ST coach in Philly under RayBob and his teams were so bad that they demoted him to DB coach before tossing him out on his behind with Rhodes.

Here's some of the stuff I found on him...

At Philly...

Ike Reese took a penalty on special teams once a game and was rewarded with more playing time and a special teams captaincy, no less. And speaking of special teams, can anyone explain why Danny Smith was still coaching for the Eagles after the disaster his unit created two years ago?


Shuffling off to Buffalo...

Buffalo's November skid, though, highlighted other shortcomings for which the head coach and his acclaimed staff must answer.

Continued stupidity. Roughing the kicker? Inside your own 10-yard line? In the second quarter? On such a short attempt, kickers focus on the speed and height of their effort, making a block all but impossible without a bad snap.

Yet there went Chris Watson, soaring through the air and into New York's John Hall. The resultant penalty gave the Jets a first down and two plays later, Jordan bulled in for the day's first touchdown.

Blame Watson and blame special teams coach Danny Smith. But blame Williams, as well. Dumb weekly penalties have to splash up on the boss at some point. Williams has been getting splattered just about all season.

Inability or unwillingness to adjust: Opponents used the same basic game plan against Buffalo throughout November.


At least he's familiar with Chad Morton...

You want to be Danny Smith? He was brought in last year to restore competence to Buffalo's infamous special teams.

So the Bills lose this season's opener when some guy from the New York Jets returns two kickoffs for touchdowns. The second ended overtime faster than you can unwrap a stick of gum.

Bled Smith: “I apologize to our football team. I apologize to the Buffalo Bills organization. I apologize to the fans.”


Special teams Grade: C

Steve Christie, one of the NFL’s most accurate placekickers, will likely be relieved of the KO duties by either Jay Taylor or Brian Moorman, who are battling to replace Mohr. Clements is the likely punt returner, but a clear-cut leader on kickoff returns has yet to emerge. After last year’s disaster, new special-teams coach Danny Smith is auditioning everybody, including veterans, on the coverage units and is meeting with mixed results.


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Special teams are a bigger liability than expected. Poor kickoff coverage cost the Bills one game, and punt coverage has been just as bad. Players were doing a poor job of staying in the lanes and didn't tackle very well. They also need to do a better job of getting off blocks. Special teams coach Danny Smith is working overtime to clean up assignment errors...

SPECIAL TEAMS: (grade) "D" Hollis is great, but kick coverage is poor.


Coaching: There is absolutely no creativity or even solid decision making on the part of the offensive coaching. Offensive coaching led by Gilbride gets an F. In fact, I will run a small risk here and preassign an F to Gilbride’s offensive coordinating for next week’s game as well.

Defensive coaching by Gray gets an A. Ricky Williams had 111 yards on the day averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry on the day. Last season Williams burned the Bills for over 400 rushing yards in two games. The Bills defense allowed only 13 points but all on drives begun in field goal range. The defense cannot be faulted for that. Danny Smith and special teams coaching gets a D.


I guess it's safe to say he's probably not gonna be the second coming of Wayne Sevier.

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