BuffalOkie Mondays: Goodwin Impresses in Return Game

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Updated: August 13, 2013
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During the second quarter of the Bills’ preseason opener against the Colts, I received a text from a good friend and fellow Oklahoma-grown Bills fan, Marcus.  The message simply said:

Goodwin is no joke.  He could end up being a great pick even if he never plays a down on offense.

Marcus is right.

There are certain things that get overblown in preseason games.  You can’t judge these games by the final score, and even a lot of the personal performances you’re watching need to be taken with a grain of salt.

But there are certain things can be accurately judged.  Those aspects of the opener included EJ Manuel’s poise and confidence in running the two-minute offense (I re-watched that drive three times yesterday), CJ Spiller being in midseason form already (how good did he look?!), and Marquise Goodwin’s God-given knack for returning kicks, which as Marcus so accurately put it, is “no joke.”

The funny thing is, even in the darkest days in Buffalo, Bills fans have always been accustomed to seeing good performances in the return game.   Terrence McGee, Roscoe Parrish, Leodis McKelvin, and CJ Spiller are just a handful of special teams home run hitters that the Bills have paraded out in the last decade, and you can add Goodwin to the list.  In fact, it may not be too long before you can put him AT THE TOP of that list.

Twice on Sunday, “Flash Goodwin” showed the speed that had the Bills’ front office so excited when they took him in the third round of April’s draft, a couple of rounds earlier than he was projected to go.  But if early returns (pardon the pun) are any indication, the Bills knew what they were doing.  Even in the speed-heavy NFL, it was apparent on each of his kick returns that Goodwin possessed an extra gear that the other 21 guys on the field didn’t, and when a hole opened up, Goodwin didn’t hesitate to put that gear on display.

But there is one aspect of Goodwin’s game that got lost in all the “holy crap, that guy is fast” talk, and that is his unique ability to keep from running ahead of his blocks.  A lot of speedsters focus on two things when they go back to return kicks: 1) Catch the ball. 2) Run fast.  But even in his first preseason game as a rookie, Goodwin showed the maturity to realize that patience in letting your blockers work will go a long way (last pun, I swear).  In his own words following the game, Goodwin said, “They blocked it really well. Following behind Frank Summers, he took the end out and I just cut off his block and cut up the field, cut across the field and just ran for my life.”  In addition to that patience, he also showed he is more than just a straight-line speed guy, which is slightly surprising given his success as a sprinter.

Goodwin has already shown in training camp that he can be a weapon in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense.  What he showed on Sunday is that his biggest impact may come in the return game.  With a new quarterback leading a new offense, field position is going to be of the utmost importance in Buffalo, and if Sunday’s performance was any indication, the Bills will be just fine in that area.