The Buffalo Bills are bringing back the no-huddle offense for the up-coming season, the same offense that won them four straight AFC Championships.
The question is, what the heck took them so long?
Before the start of last season, fans listened to new offensive coordinator Turk Schonert talk about big changes to the offense and the addition of formations that would be used for the no-huddle offense they were trying to install.
In reality though, the Bills used the no-huddle very sparingly last season. Due to their lack of creativity of the coaches and the lack of talent on the field, the Bills, for the second straight season, turned into one of the most predicable offenses in the NFL.
If I knew what play was going to come next, opposing team's coaches and personnel, who spent hours and hours studying game film, certainly know what play the Bills are going to go with next.
Unlike last year though, the Bills finally have some weapons to work with.
Trent Edwards is entering his third NFL season as a starting quarterback, a year in which young quarterbacks blossom.
While there are questions with his arm strength (his ability to throw the deep ball) and his durability (has missed time due to injuries the past two years in the NFL and took a beating in college when he played at Stafford) he brings a lot to the table in the Bills new no-huddle scheme.
Edwards is a smart quarterback, who doesn't try to force anything if it's not there. He is also very accurate (completed over 65 percent of his passes last season). With his attributes, he won't be mistaken for Jim Kelly in Buffalo, however, he fits the no-huddle offense very well.
Edwards will also have talent around him to throw to.
The Buffalo Bills went out and signed Terrell Owens in the offseason, and he will be teamed up with Lee Evans as the top two wide outs. Say what you want about T.O. as a distraction off the field, but also realize that the 35 year-old can still play.
Nine out of the past 11 seasons, Owens has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark. It is also the third straight year that he has hauled in double digit touchdowns.
With Owens on the squad, Evans will finally have a true No. 2 to compliment him. He is a play maker who can get open deep at any time. Last season, without much around him, Evans hauled in 63 catches for 1017 yards and three touchdowns. During the span of his five year career, Evans averaged 16 yards a catch.
No offense to Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish, or James Hardy, but none of them belong lined up wide as the No. 2 option on plays and none of them should for the up-coming season.
Josh Reed will fit in nicely as the slot wide receiver, a role that fits him well. "Mr. First Down" constantly moves the chains with his ability to find the soft spot in zone coverage. His sure hands will also give Edwards a safety valve on every play, even if Owens and Evans are covered down field.
Seventh-round draft pick Steve Johnson blossomed towards the end of his first season in the league, and in my eyes has passed both Parrish and Hardy on the depth chart. Johnson caught 10 passes last season, for 102 yards and two touchdowns but received more and more playing time as the season went on.
His good size (6'-2", 202 lbs) gives him the ability to shield the ball away from defensive backs. Just like a basketball player, he has the ability to "block out" defenders trying to stop him when the ball is in the air. He is very physical and his good speed will help him create separation from defenders.
Parrish is a guy who will sub in from time to time when the Bills might be looking to get a big play. Parrish's speed is his biggest threat, but he struggles at times getting open. He has always had a small role with Buffalo since joining the team, the Bills have used him mostly with screens, crossing patterns, quick three-step throws, and on WR reverses.
His role won't decrease this year, but it also won't get any bigger either. When Parrish is on the field though, defenses have to make sure he is accounted for or else he is gone.
James Hardy had a disappointing first year with the Bills after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. Most wide receivers struggle at first to make the switch from college to the pros, and the Bills are certainly not giving up on him.
Hardy still is a very raw talent. His route running ability is below average and he struggles heavily with getting separation. He is a guy in college who could just out run and out jump people and he can't do that in the NFL. He also lacked explosiveness at the line of scrimmage and had trouble with defenders jamming him at the line.
Coming off of ACL surgery will not help Hardy out either. He might not get much of a role this season, but with another year under his belt and being able to learn from one of the best wide receivers in Owens, Hardy should look to be in a good position for a starting role in 2010-11.
Tight-end has been a position that has been lackluster in recent years. From drops to fumbles, no one lining up at TE for the Bills could be the game changer they needed. Well all of that changed this year, with the selection of tight end Shawn Nelson in the forth round of the draft.
Nelson is a big, pass catching tight end, who will help the Bills spread the field and give defenses something to think about with the no-huddle offense. Nelson even has the ability to spread out as a forth wide receiver, spreading the field even more and creating a miss match with much smaller defensive backs or linebackers.
Nelson is too quick for linebackers and too tall for defensive backs, giving him an advantage almost anywhere he lines up. He also makes the hard catches look extremely easy and can fight for the ball.
Zone defenses could cause a problem against him, as he learns to find the holes in zones and improves his route running, but overall, Nelson has great potential for the up-coming season.
Back-ups Derek Fine and Derek Schouman both run routes well and both have soft hands. They will most likely be used in two tight end formations for their blocking abilities though, although both were utilized in play-action plays.
The running back position is filled with two play makers and a solid reserve.
Fred Jackson is the starter, with Marshawn Lynch being suspended for the first three games of the season. Jackson is no stranger on the field though, splitting time with Lynch for the past two seasons while even picking up a few starts. Jackson showed his ability is the passing game, having 37 receptions for 317 yards.
Lynch might not have the most reliable hands on the team, but he hauled in 47 receptions last season, up from 18 catches during his rookie season two years ago.
Defenses have to watch out with who is in the backfield, as Lynch will run over anyone who tries to get in his path while Jackson is a good route runner who will use his speed and quick footwork to get by defenders.
The Bills also added Dominic Rhodes in the off-season to add more depth at running back. The veteran back might not be at the top of his game anymore, but he still can produce in the passing game, having 45 receptions last season when splitting time with Colts running back Joseph Adda in a Peyton Manning no-huddle offense.
Overall, the Bills have the weapons all over the field for the no-huddle offense to be a great success. Not only will it tire out defenses, opening up the deep passes but it will also minimize some of the Bills struggles at offensive line coming into the season.
The line is rebuild and looks promising for the future, but they could struggle out of the gate. Spreading the field forces defenses to play pass back in coverage and will help minimize blitzes coming from the opposing team. It will also tire out the defensive line, making the opposition's pass rush even weaker.
The Bills have the players in place for the no-huddle offense to be a success, and seeing as the Bills are in the "Playoffs or Bust" mode this season, maybe a return to the offense that made them elite will help return them to the playoffs.