On Monday afternoon Tarvaris Jackson was working on less than five hours of sleep at Bills practice after taking a red eye flight from Seattle to Buffalo to report to his new team by late morning Eastern time. Jackson is going to have a lot more long nights if he's going to absorb the playbook in time to be the Bills number two quarterback.
Jackson has three practices this week before the Bills preseason finale at Detroit, counting Monday's session where he just watched plays and examined the play call sheet during the team segments. He then has another practice Saturday before Week 1 of the regular season begins in earnest on Labor Day at which point the starters get almost all the reps.
Is it enough time to learn a complete new set of terminology?
"I don't know," said head coach Chan Gailey. "I've spent a little bit of time with him and he seemed to grasp ... you know, there's only so many plays in football. It's just what you call them. We've just got to get him up to speed with how we call the plays and once he gets the terminology down, he'll be comfortable with what we're doing. We've just got to get the terminology in his head."
"I'm just going to try to cram as much as possible right now," said Jackson. "I feel like I'm a pretty quick learner. There's different terminology, but mostly the same concepts. So I just have to really erase all that stuff I've had in my head the last six years and try to learn this new system. It seems pretty fine. Just watching Fitz the last couple of years the way he's been playing and the way the offense has been doing it looks like a pretty good offense."
Buffalo's offense is in its third year of evolution under Gailey so it has evolved and become more complex.
"We have more options available for players," Gailey said. "When we first came in we were very black and white about exactly what we wanted, how we wanted it run and what we wanted to do. As we have evolved we say, 'Okay if you get this leverage you can do this. If you get this coverage you can do this.'
"So we've evolved to adapting to the defenses and adjusting to what they're doing to give us the best chance instead of it being black and white. If it's black and white anyone can come in and do it. As we become more diversified with what our options are off of the route schemes we run then it becomes harder for everybody to jump on board."
Gailey along with quarterbacks coach David Lee spent an hour with Jackson on Monday.
"Just going over the basic terminology of our system and he seemed to understand where we were going with it," Gailey said. "We had him stand back there and do the scripts, read the plays and try to get him to understand that. I think he's a quick learner but we'll see."
For Jackson, Gailey's spread system appeals to him. He thinks it'll be easier to make reads.
"I was taught when I was younger that the best thing for young quarterbacks is to spread things out so they can actually see who's coming," he said. "By the offense being so spread out you're able to identify blitzers, but by you being spread out you're going to get a lot more blitzes so that's something I've got to work on as far as learning the system and knowing what my hot reads are and getting the ball out as quick as possible."
Quick is something Jackson is going to need to be in every facet of his first two weeks at One Bills Drive. Time is not on his side, but the veteran quarterback is determined to make things work sooner rather than later.
"I'm just trying to get familiar with everybody," Jackson said. "Just show my teammates I'm out here to work. That's pretty much it. I'm not looking too far ahead of it right now. I'm just trying to get ready just in case I play Thursday night, and just trying to learn as much as possible."