By Tim Graham
Although we've heard from most of the people involved, there still seems to be missing information regarding the Buffalo Bills' decision to release punter and seven-time captain Brian Moorman to re-sign undrafted rookie Shawn Powell.
"We were hoping to get more consistency, and we weren't able to get it," Bills coach Chan Gailey said of Moorman. "He had a great preseason. He just wasn't able to get it back."
No other specifics were supplied, and in TV interviews Wednesday night, Moorman declined to share any details of what the Bills explained to him.
But in a conversation with Bills kicker Steve Christie, he told me something noteworthy about what the Bills are looking for.
"What they want is Chris Mohr again," Christie said by phone from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. "They want another Chris Mohr who is consistently going to give you a low 40-yard net every time. A special teams coach will take that, especially in Buffalo.
"I think you're going to get really good hang times with [Powell]."
Christie and Mohr were Bills teammates from 1992 through 2000, and all but their final season was under current Bills special teams coach Bruce DeHaven, who was fired after the Music City Miracle and returned with Gailey in 2010.
Christie's point was the difference in hang time. Mohr's punts weren't Shane Lechler-style bombs. Mohr's punts were effective because they weren't easily returned.
Mohr's net average actually was in the mid-30's most seasons. His best gross season for Buffalo was 42.2 yards, and his career average was 40.4 yards.
Moorman's career average is 43.9 yards, and his average last season was 48.2 yards. He was averaging 45.5 yards through three games this year. But his punts have been more returnable when not sending them out of bounds.
Christie declared unreturnable punts better be Powell's strength, too. Otherwise, the switch will have been meaningless.
"I think it's going to work as long as you're going to get the opposing return men calling fair catches," Christie said. "That's the only way it's going to work. If you're going to get the same thing [as with Moorman], then the decision isn't going to be the best.
"With that being said, if [Powell] comes in and starts hitting really nice hang times and he's causing the return teams to call fair catches every time or he's able to get the ball on the sideline every time, then it's really going to help, and that's where they'll win.
"If he's not able to do that, then there's no sense in changing it."
(Photo: Buffalo News file)