When Bills fans hear the term 'no huddle' they think of one thing, the K-Gun offense of the early 90's Bills run by Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. In Western New York 'no huddle' and 'K-Gun' may as well be synonomous.
So when the Buffalo offense committed themselves to using a 'no huddle' approach more often this season, a good portion of the team's fan base immediately envisioned high-speed, non-stop offensive football for 60 minutes every Sunday. But for the 2009 Bills, the no huddle approach will be an option for the offense, not its philosophy.
"It's not the K-Gun," said quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, who worked in the K-Gun offense as a reserve signal caller behind Kelly in the mid-90's. "It's just something we decided to make a point of emphasis in our offense. It's real easy to communicate in a huddle. It puts stress on an offense to communicate at the line of scrimmage, but it also stresses the defense to get a call in. So it's something we've played around with in the offseason and carried over into camp."
Van Pelt admits there are some basic similarities in their no huddle approach to that of the K-Gun, but that the parallels don't go much further than that.
"It has K-Gun properties with the fact that there's not a fullback in the game," said Van Pelt. "That's the biggest similarity to the K-Gun. We run some similar plays, but it's not the K-Gun. It's a way for us to get up and put pressure on the defense if we decide to use that."
Too often the past two seasons Buffalo's offense appears to react to the defense instead of dictating play to the opponent. The no huddle approach is expected to help them control the pace and direction of the game. How much the Bills actually use the no huddle week to week is the question.
What is clear is they want to make more use of it this fall after plans to unveil it in 2008 were put on hold.
"That's something we targeted to do a couple of years ago, but it's tough to do it when you don't have guys in camp," said Van Pelt. "All the work we put into it last year we couldn't use it with Jason (Peters) coming in late and having to learn how we do it. So it kind of put it on hold for us. This year with everybody being here it's something we've worked hard on in the offseason. It's an added facet to our offense."
To this point Trent Edwards feels the offense is finding a comfort zone with the hurry up approach having practiced it all through the spring and into camp.
"We're making progress every day," said Edwards. "We're making some changes here and there. The hard thing about that is making sure that the defense doesn't get in a routine of understanding your calls. You've got to make sure you're changing some things up and putting in some double moves and putting in some dummy calls and that's what's difficult about the no huddle offense is that the defense can pick up on some of the calls. So that's something we're working on every day."
"It involves a lot more communication, which is one reason we're spending so much time on it," said Jauron. "So far, they have grasped it well. They have done a good job with it. We like it, we like the tempo, we like it in practice and we would like to use it more in games."
It appears the coaching staff's use of the no huddle will be dependent upon specific factors each week. Those factors will primarily be the opponent, and the caliber of its offense and defense, time and score in the game and field position.
"We just want to have it in our back pocket because it gives us an opportunity to change the tempo of a game," said Van Pelt. "Any time you put extensive work into it obviously you're going to feel better about it going into the season and we have. I think Trent is feeling more comfortable operating it and it does put stress on the defense. They have to call their play quickly and they can't change personnel. Sometimes you catch them with too many guys on the field.
"It's something we've worked on and targeted to hone our skills in the no huddle. I don't know how much we'll use it, but I know we feel a lot better about using it than we did last year."