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Moorman wants to keep on kicking

Posted Jan 8, 2014

Brian Moorman only appeared in 11 games in his midseason return to Buffalo, but most of his numbers indicate he can still be the effective punter he always was for the Bills.


Brian Moorman re-joined the Bills with 11 games left in the season after the inconsistent punting of Shawn Powell earned him a pink slip. All Moorman did was provide a calming veteran influence to Buffalo’s punt unit while also proving he’s still more than capable of delivering a big kick when it’s needed most. Moorman, however, is also an unrestricted free agent. It leaves him wondering if he’ll have an opportunity to continue and subsequently finish his career in Buffalo.

“I would love to continue my career and I’d love to continue here in Buffalo,” said Moorman. “I’m thrilled to be back, the way the community opened their arms and wrapped them around me as well as the organization and my teammates. It’s been a great experience. These guys make me feel young that’s for sure. I’m having a lot of fun. I think the organization is going in the right direction. I’m excited with what coach Marrone is doing and I’m excited with this team so I’d love to be a part of it moving forward.”

Moorman, who will turn 38 next month, had only 11 games to prove his worth to Buffalo’s new coaching staff, but the front office sounds like they intend to make him a contract offer.

When asked about re-signing free agent kicker Dan Carpenter and Moorman, Bills GM Doug Whaley said they intended to reach out to the agents for both players “pretty soon” to try and get something done.

“We’ll see how things play out and I feel like I’m kicking as good as I ever have,” said Moorman. “My body feels good. I feel young and ready to roll.”

On the surface some might look at Moorman’s net punting average, one of the chief indicators used to assess a punter’s rate of success, and see that with a mark of 36.6 he ranked 30th in the NFL. What most may not understand is Moorman was very rarely asked to flip the field for Buffalo’s defense.

Most of the time the approach of special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was to hang the ball high to let the coverage unit force a fair catch or down the ball.

In his 11 games as Bills punter Moorman did an admirable job. He forced 17 fair catches, put 10 punts out of bounds and four others were downed. All told just over half of his punts (31-61) were not returnable.

If you project Moorman’s fair catches out over a 16-game season he would’ve had 28 on the year, which would’ve ranked second in the NFL.

For those punts that were returned the gains were minimal. Opponents averaged 7.6 yards a return on Moorman punts this season good for eighth-best in the league. More importantly it cut the average return that opponents had been getting when Shawn Powell was punting almost in half. When Powell was still punting for Buffalo opponents averaged 14.5 yards a punt return.

Hang time is what Crossman wants more than anything and Moorman proved he could still deliver that on a consistent basis. According to Pro Football Focus Moorman’s top hang time this season was 5.5 seconds, good for second-best in the league.

Only three other NFL punters had a better hang time on kicks this season. St. Louis’ Johnny Hekker, Jacksonville’s Bryan Anger and San Francisco’s Andy Lee had a better hang time punt in 2013, as all three hit 5.6 seconds this past season and none of them punt in the conditions offered at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Moorman’s punts that forced opposing offenses to start drives inside their own 20 over 16 games would’ve projected out to 27. That figure would’ve ranked 13th in the league this season.

He also showed he can still flip the field when asked to do so. He had at least one punt of 50 yards or more in all but one of the 11 games he appeared in this season. Moorman’s season-long was 62 yards this season was tied for 13th-longest in 2013.

So despite his age, Moorman has shown he still has a lot of leg left to offer, which likely explains why Buffalo sounds like they’d prefer to keep him in the fold for 2014.

The veteran punter admits that the presence of Garrison Sanborn as Buffalo’s long snapper also carries weight in his desire to re-sign with the Bills. Sanborn provides a measure of comfort for him operationally.

“Obviously I feel comfortable here in this locker room, but then just having Garrison as a snapper… we worked together in the offseason a lot,” he said. “We worked together last offseason. It’s something where being able to come into training camp and be comfortable with him is definitely a plus.”

And though it’s probably not even that high on Moorman’s priority list, there is the opportunity to move into third-place on the team’s all-time games played list if he appears in all 16 games for Buffalo in 2014.

With 190 games played in a Bills uniform, Moorman currently stands fifth all-time as he moved past Wall of Famer Darryl Talley this past year. With 16 more games in 2014 he would move up to third with 206, trailing only Hall of Famer Bruce Smith (217) and Wall of Famer Andre Reed (221).

“That would be great. I’ve always said that I want to retire a Buffalo Bill and to have that opportunity would be great. I’d love to have that chance. Just being back has been awesome, but to be able to have that chance would be even better,” said Moorman.

“I think I can continue to go and I can still keep up with these young guys and I intend to prove that. It’s still fun for me and that’s what this year did for me was make the game fun again. Being in this locker room and around the coaching staff is the most fun I’ve had in three years. It’s been great and re-invigorated me and I’m ready to go and hopefully be able to continue on into the future.”