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    Was April a "Martz" scapegoat?

    INSIDE THE NFL
    Making quick move on April made season special

    2/13/2005

    By MARK GAUGHAN

    The acquisition of Jack Kemp after he was released by San Diego in 1962 was the No. 1 waiver claim in Buffalo Bills history.
    Getting special teams coach Bobby April after he was released by the St. Louis Rams might have been No. 2.

    Of course, since April is a coach and not a player, he wasn't actually waived. But he might as well have been, when Rams head coach Mike Martz opted not to renew his contract after the 2003 season.

    Bills coach Mike Mularkey acted quickly to add April to the Bills' staff, and a year later we can see the results.

    The Bills finished 2004 with the No. 1 special teams units in the NFL, according to the Dallas Morning News ranking system, which was released last week and is treated as official by most of the coaches in the league. St. Louis? The Rams ranked last - No. 32.

    It's the first time the Bills have been No. 1 since Bruce DeHaven's troops did it in 1996.

    April's units ranked among the top five in three of the four main special teams categories. The Bills were second in kickoff return average and fifth in punt return average. The kickoff coverage unit ranked second in average yards allowed. The punt coverage unit ranked 13th in net punting average.

    One could argue the Bills had one of the top 10 punting units in the league because Brian Moorman had a superb season. His net average was dragged down by the fact he kicked in six games with windy conditions that limited punt distance.

    St. Louis finished 31st in punt returns, 31st in kickoff returns, 32nd in kickoff coverage and 28th in net punting. That rivals the Negative Grand Slam the Bills achieved in 2000 when they were last in all four categories.

    The Dallas Morning News ranking combines each team's performance in 22 categories. The top three were: 1, Buffalo; 2, New Orleans; 3, Miami.

    The Bills' five touchdowns on kickoff or punt returns tied an NFL record. They had a sixth special teams touchdown on the blocked punt and end zone recovery by Jason Peters in Cincinnati. Terrence McGee's 1,370 kickoff return yards set a single-season team record. The Bills' average kickoff return of 24.5 yards was a team record, breaking the mark of 23.79 that O.J. Simpson helped set in 1969.




    Irvin snubbed

    Dallas receiver Michael Irvin missed induction to the Hall of Fame last week. He deserves to be in the Hall, he got this selector's vote, and he will eventually get elected. Hopefully, it will happen next year.

    It's hard to say why Irvin got rejected after reaching the final six in the voting process. (The candidates are whittled from 15 to 10 to six before the final vote.) It's possible some voters may think that first-year-eligible candidates should not get in unless they are among the greatest ever to play their position - the Jerry Rices, Joe Montanas and Jim Browns of the football world.

    Only 56 of 166 members of the Hall were chosen in their first year of eligibility. The majority went in on their second, third or fourth years of eligibility.

    Irvin ranks 14th all time in catches with 750. Ex-Redskin great Art Monk is fifth with 940 catches. Monk didn't get in, either. Monk probably deserves induction, too.

    But Monk was not as great as Irvin. He wasn't the go-to game-breaker that Irvin was. He led his own team in receiving in only six of his 16 years.

    The Hall of Fame is not about numbers, it's about impact. Irvin had big games at every stage of the playoffs. He was the go-to receiver on three Super Bowl winners. He was the emotional leader of one of the greatest teams ever. "He was the Reggie Jackson" of the Cowboys, Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

    Irvin was the Cowboys' swagger. He was one of the hardest workers on the Cowboys, too.

    Receivers tend to have a hard time getting in quickly because of the inflation of passing numbers the past 20 years.

    In 1985, when Rice entered the NFL, there were four receivers with 600 or more catches. Today there are 34 with 600 or more.

    So the argument that a candidate has more catches than any receiver already in the Hall isn't necessarily compelling.

    Charlie Joiner ended his career No. 1 on the all-time list. It took him 11 years to get in. It took Lynn Swann 14 and John Stallworth 17. Bills great Andre Reed stands fourth all time in catches.

    Unlike Monk, Reed was the game-breaking receiving threat for the Bills. But given the fact Monk and Irvin have had to wait, Reed's quick induction is far from assured.



    Onside kicks

    The Titans hired Southern California offensive chief Norm Chow as their new coordinator. Chow, 58, has had a phenomenal college career and his hiring is a coup for Titans coach Jeff Fisher. In the pros, however, Chow won't enjoy the huge edge in skill-position talent that he had at USC. The Trojans have promoted Lane Kiffin to replace Chow. Kiffin is the son of Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who is close friends with USC head coach Pete Carroll. Lane Kiffin is only 29, but he is viewed as a rising star and was wooed for the Mississippi offensive coordinator job last year.

    The Washington Redskins have 75,000 names on their waiting list for season tickets. The team is offering the fans on the list the chance to jump ahead of the line and get season tickets for this season - as long as they're willing to pay $7,500 to join the team's new Touchdown Club. The 150 new Touchdown Club memberships include midfield lower bowl seats, a catered pregame party, pregame field passes, parking and a trip to a Redskins game in either Philadelphia or the Meadowlands.

    High school and college coaches had to love the way the Patriots made fun of Terrell Owens' touchdown celebration. Maybe a few more young players recognized the silliness of excessive celebrations after receiver Deion Branch and linebacker Mike Vrabel ridiculed Owens by "flapping their wings" after their Super Bowl touchdowns.

    Armchair QB Dept.: The Pats are a great team. They're a dynasty. But they're not invincible. Indianapolis and Pittsburgh played too safe against the Patriots in the playoffs. Pittsburgh never let rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger get into a rhythm in the first half. His first three pass attempts (and five of his first six) came on third-and-5 plays or longer - pressure situations. The Steelers were down, 17-3, before they let him throw on first down (and it was a 28-yard completion). Indy should have stretched the field more early, which might have helped make running out of the three-receiver set easier.

    New Browns coach Romeo Crennel, 57, is the oldest first-time head coach in NFL history. Entering the season, Crennel will rank fifth in age behind Dick Vermeil (68), Joe Gibbs (64), Bill Parcells (63) and Marty Schottenheimer (61). Crennel has a sister named Juliet.

    e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com


  2. #2
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    Re: Was April a "Martz" scapegoat?

    I know we're all trying to be a politically correct around here lately by not assigning full blame to any of the Rams' triad braintrust, but was getting rid of April, Martz's decision or not? I don't know who's decision it was but this is just another illustratinn of mismanagement in my opinion.

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    Re: Was April a "Martz" scapegoat?

    As far as Irvin is concerned:his problem was having to many rides in a squad car,but I think he will get in some year.
    Last edited by psycho9985; -02-02-2006 at 10:22 PM.

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    Re: Was April a "Martz" scapegoat?

    I don't think there's any question that April was a scapegoat. Whether he was Martz's scapegoat, that I can't say.

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    Re: Was April a "Martz" scapegoat?

    Quote Originally Posted by psycho9985
    As far as Irvin is concerned:his problem was having to many rides in a squad car,but I think he will get in some year.
    LT had the same problem, but still got in without problems.

    It was very frustrating to watch the Bills Special Teams this year and then ours too.
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