Bills' Farwell is finding his way as a special teams coordinator

May 30, 2019 - 10:55 am
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Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) - I can't believe that Bills' special teams coach Heath Farwell is already into his fourth year of coaching. To me, it seems like yesterday that he was on the field for Minnesota and Seattle as one of the best special teams players in the NFL.

Sean McDermott has put Farwell in charge of his special teams after Danny Crossman had them worst in the NFL. McDermott is taking a chance because in his three seasons of coaching, Farwell has never been the special teams coordinator. He says he's really enjoying it as the team is on the field for OTAs, "Coach McDermott and Brandon Beane, that's a huge emphasis for them so I'm just trying to help the best I can. They are all working hard, that's the cool thing. Everyone is working their butts off and we are getting better every day but we have a long ways to go. It's still early and we are only a couple weeks in but it's fun to be out here. We are excited to be out here and run around and be out on the grass. We are enjoying it."

Farwell was also a linebacker in the NFL, but special teams was his bread and butter. He was a tough hitter and he wants that out of his players, "I'm hoping the message is clear to them, what I'm into and what kind of program we are going to be around here but I think we just have to keep grinding. That's the thing, we just have to keep working at it. That's all we got to do, just keep working at it.

"Playing fast and playing smart and playing with juice is kind of the motto we have got around here. It's playing fast, we want that screaming off the tape. They've got to play with great effort, strength and then playing smart."

Farwell made the Pro Bowl as a special teams ace. He knows his playing days go into his coaching now, "I definitely think that's my coaching style. What I lack an experience in coaching I kind of make it up with playing time. I've played up against a lot of these guys or a couple guys I should say and just being in those locker rooms a handful of years ago, I feel like I've had a good relationship with them and am still building it. I'm hoping they respect me, I'm hoping I'm getting that respect from them as I'm coaching them because I respect every single one of them and I know what they go through. Understanding what they go through every day, I would say, nobody knows it better than I do."

Crossman's special teams were very undisciplined and had penalties that killed the Bills in many games. Farwell knows that has to be cleaned up, "We have got to be smart, we got to know the rules, those are the things. And playing with energy, that's what the best teams are about. Playing with juice and I'm hoping that's the message that they are getting and that's what me and Smiley are trying to portray."

It's interesting to see who is on the special teams units once the season starts. You will see starting linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. You could see Tre White, Micah Hyde and other starters out there. Farwell said it's a long discussion on which players will be available to him come September, "I'd love to have all the starters out there but that's part of it. How much are we going to keep those guys out there? They are going to be playing a lot of reps on offense and defense so we got to have backups that play four phases and help out special teams wise, and they got to be ready to fill in at their position on offense or defense. That's what it is, it's how they could help this team win. That's the most important thing and whatever that value is, is going to be what's going to make the team."

There's no question Farwell is going to lean on Alexander to provide veteran leadership. He said he needs players like that to be successful, "All those veterans, I rely on them heavily. Being a new coordinator this is all new to me so getting a good understanding of what the feel is, is that clear enough to them, it that clear enough to the young guys because I know those guys, the older guys, get it but what are the young guys getting? It's the whole group, I'm speaking to everybody not just Lorenzo. Lorenzo knows it as good as anybody, but he's a good voice to call to let me know if I need to clear something up a little bit more or this so he has been a great sound board for me and a lot of these veterans, I rely on all of these guys who have done this and who have been in special team rooms whether it's here or with other teams. They are very valuable and I am definitely taking full advantage of those guys."

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