In his first go round as special teams coach for the Buffalo Bills, Bruce DeHaven had some talented players at his disposal. Whether it was the team’s all-time leading scorer Steve Christie, hang time punter Chris Mohr, consistent long snapper Adam Lingner or coverage phenoms Mark Pike and Steve Tasker, DeHaven had players he could build his units around.
In looking at what DeHaven inherits in his second stint as Bills special teams coach his former special teams captain believes his former coach has the talent to succeed again in Buffalo.
“He does have some real accomplished special teamers to work with in Buffalo no question.
With viable return talent still under contract on the roster like
“He’s got the ‘x’s and ‘o’s down,” Tasker said. “He was the guy that devised the scheme that got me the punt block in the Super Bowl. It was a tailor made block for that game and we got it done and it worked perfectly. Most of the blocks I got in my career were because of schemes that he devised.”
The key to success however, for any special teams coach is the latitude he gets from his boss.
“It comes down from the head coach,” said Tasker. “A special teams coordinator is as good as his head coach lets him be. He’s the one that gives him time on the practice field, the freedom to pick some players, and if that’s the case he’s going to do well. That’s all there is to it.”
Tasker believes it’s essential for special teams coaches to have enough input to pick a select group of core special teamers for return and coverage units.
“He needs guys that can have certain qualities, but they need to be good football players,” said Tasker. “Bruce needs about six to eight guys that are hard core coverage guys and rush guys. The guys that are going to play on those four main units of punt, punt coverage, kick and kick coverage.”
Of course being able to make use of players from the offensive units and defensive units helps as well.
“You’ve got to be able to use guys from other units on special teams. There has to be an all hands on deck kind of approach,” said Tasker. “If you want to be a good football team everybody has to get involved in every aspect. For example, we’d use Bruce Smith on special teams, but it was just to block field goals and extra points. It’s not like we had him covering kicks. That’s all Bruce (DeHaven) wanted to do in making use of players from offense or defense. But that’s going to be up to the head coach.”
Ultimately, Tasker is confident that his former coach can recapture the success he enjoyed in his first stint in Buffalo.
“The players will feel well prepared for their opponents under Bruce,” said Tasker. “He’s a smart schemer, and sharp with a game plan. There were times where we just manhandled opponents because he had a better game plan and we were better prepared and he had us ready for everything that they did.”