It's a time in the offseason when OTAs are usually in full swing for the Bills. Coaches are assessing the new talent plucked from the draft while making preliminary judgments as to who is going to fit where on the roster. All of that activity is on the back burner these days due to the league's labor dispute. But don't think Buffalo's coaching staff is sitting around waiting for the time when they'll see their players again.
Head coach Chan Gailey and his staff has been putting in solid hours meeting as a staff. They've been fine tuning their offensive and defensive schemes while also preparing for their 2011 opponents.
"We spend our time now working on things that we sort of cram in around OTAs," Gailey said. "We're able to take our time doing them now, which is breaking down preseason opponents and our early regular season opponents. So we're able to get some general ideas against those teams and what they're doing."
Coaches are often forced to do a lot of juggling this time of year from coaching up rookies and new arrivals to implementing tweaks to the offensive and defensive playbooks to laying the groundwork for their first few opponents of the upcoming season. That need to multi-task isn't quite as intense right now.
"There are a lot of disadvantages to the lockout, but one thing that's helping our coaches is they've got a lot of time," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "They're working now on Kansas City and an attack to be able to best utilize our guys."
Buffalo opens the 2011 season against the defending AFC West champions at Arrowhead on Sept. 11.
"We spend our days now offensively breaking down Kansas City," said Gailey. "That's our opener and find out what we think we want to do against them. We also want to finalize what we want accomplish in preseason. Those are things we can do now without the players being here."
Gailey doesn't deny that the current situation is a bit frustrating especially for a coaching staff looking to take a big step forward with this Bills team after going .500 in the second half of the 2010 campaign (4-4). At the same time Buffalo's sideline boss is not going to waste any time fretting about the time lost on the field with his players when it's out of his control.
"There are a lot bigger problems in the world than us not having the players here right now," Gailey said. "They'll get here when they get here. The great thing is nobody has their players. If we were the only ones that didn't have our players then I'd be worried. We're all in the same boat. What we have to do is take advantage of every chance we get to meet as an offense, defense, staff meeting and talk about plans on how we'll handle it depending on dates of possible return by the players."
Buffalo's staff has a set of contingency plans in place from how their offensive and defensive installation may have to be adjusted based on the amount of practice time they'll have available to them when everything gets resolved.
Looking across the entire NFL landscape, Nix feels there will be teams in a much tougher positions than Buffalo when things are back up and running again.
"When I start getting real frustrated I start thinking about these seven or eight teams with new coaches, a new staff and they're bringing in new people," he said. "I feel for those guys. They've got a real problem. I think we're somewhere to the middle to above the middle of the pack as far as the effect it'll have on us. Our guys have played, we've got starters. It may slow the rookies down a little bit, but every other team is in the same boat."