Orchard Park, NY (WKBW/Bills Release) The Buffalo Bills today announced that Danny Crossman has been hired as the team’s special teams coordinator.
Crossman will enter his 11th year as an NFL coach in 2013 and ninth as a special teams coordinator.
From 2010-12, Crossman presided over the Detroit Lions’ special teams unit after seven years with the Carolina Panthers (2003-09), including the final five as their special teams coordinator. Crossman entered the NFL with Carolina in 2003 as a special teams assistant while also assisting the team’s strength and conditioning program.
In 2012, Lions K Jason Hanson posted a career-high and set a franchise record with 134 points. During Crossman’s tenure with Detroit from 2010-12, S John Wendling tied for the NFL-lead with 51 special teams tackles.
In his first year with the Lions in 2010, the kick return unit was the third-most improved in the League with an average 3.5 more yards per return than in 2009. Returner Stefan Logan posted the fifth-best punt return average in the NFL (12.1). Detroit also had the NFL’s 10th-most significant improvement in punt return average in 2010 – a jump from an 8.8 punt return average in 2009 to 12.1 yards per punt return in 2010.
During Crossman’s stint with the Panthers from 2003-09, the team’s kicking and cover groups contributed to the team’s success which included three playoff appearances (2003, 2005 and 2008), two NFC South titles in 2003 and 2008. The Panthers also finished with at least eight wins in five of those seven years.
The Panthers ranked third in the NFL in 2008 with an opponent average drive start after kickoffs (24.7) and were one of three teams that did not allow an opponent to start a drive following a kickoff past the 50-yard line. Carolina posted a league-best 30 touchbacks, 33.7 touchback percentage and ninth with an opponent kickoff return average (21.9).
In his first year as a special teams coordinator in 2005, Crossman’s unit ranked among the best in the NFL. The Panthers finished ninth in the Dallas Morning News special teams ratings which were highlighted with a second place finish in punt coverage and seventh in kickoff coverage. Crossman helped guide P Jason Baker to set the franchise record in net punting average in both 2005 (38.9) and 2006 (39.0). In both years, Baker’s net punting average was first in the NFC and third in the NFL. From 2005-09, Baker ranked eighth in the NFL with a combined net punting average of 38.0.
Prior to entering the NFL coaching ranks, Crossman spent 10 years coaching in college, including Michigan State (2002), Georgia Tech (1999-2001), Central Florida (1997-98), Western Kentucky (1994-96) and U.S. Coast Guard Academy (1993).
COACH DOUG MARRONE COMMENTS ON DANNY CROSSMAN
Have you kept a relationship with Danny Crossman through the years after playing and coaching together previously?
“The relationships that you build as players are obviously very important and special. You go through a lot of adversity in this game, so we remained close. My second job was at the Coast Guard Academy, which was Danny’s first. Really we have come from the bottom up through this industry. We have stayed close and we have come to this point where we can work together again. He brings great enthusiasm to the room and he brings experience. He has been to playoff games, he has been to championship games and he has competed at the highest level which is the Super Bowl.”
What attributes and qualities will Crossman bring to the position?
“The thing I am excited about for what Danny will bring to our special teams is a system that plays to our players’ strengths-something that we have obviously talked about. For our players, we are going to be able to evaluate what their strengths are and be able to put them in the best position possible for us to win.”
Can you talk about the importance of special teams?
“Many games are won and lost with special teams. It was important to our players and the organization to hire someone with experience. You want to make sure that you have someone that has experience and that can evaluate the full roster so that we know that we are getting the most out of our special teams units. It is obviously one third of the game and it is a very important part of it. That person has to deal with everyone on the team. It is different than your unit groups as far as offensive line, defensive backs or any other position—he is truly dealing with everyone.”
COMMENTS FROM DANNY CROSSMAN
What attracted you to this position with the Buffalo Bills?
“Most importantly is the opportunity to work with an outstanding NFL franchise that has a passionate fan base. I know how much this team means to the community having grown up in a hardworking, blue-collar city. I’m excited to help this organization on the field with the support of our fans.”
Have you maintained a relationship with Doug Marrone through the years? You both played together in the World League and coached together in college.
“Doug and I have known each other for the last 25 years or so. After playing together, we had the opportunity to coach together twice before in college football and compete against each other in the NFL. We have maintained a very close relationship over the years.”
Coming to Buffalo, how do weather conditions affect the strategy of special teams?
“Weather can impact special teams greatly. And that is one of the things you never know until the morning of a game. We will have the ability within our game plan to adjust accordingly for that day.”
Your special teams units put up good numbers during your time in Detroit and Carolina. Bills punt returner Leodis McKelvin led the NFL in punt return average in 2012. What qualities contribute to a successful return and kicking team?
“I think there are a lot of things that go into both. When you mention a player like Leodis McKelvin who is naturally gifted and has had a very good career, there are those in both the NFL and college who just have the innate ability to make big plays. Some guys are blessed with it and some are not. It is exciting to look at a guy with that caliber and possibly have the opportunity to work with as well as the other positions of the unit here.”
Do you have any familiarity with longtime Bills kicker Rian Lindell? And punter Shawn Powell who is coming off his rookie season?
“There is familiarity with everybody in the league from common opponents to scouting players and when they come out of college into the draft. I have not spent a lot of time on this past season in terms of either one of those players with just getting to the office today. The good thing about when you come into a new organization is it is a fresh thing for everybody. I have a lot of work to do in terms of evaluating players.”