The T-Gun Is Cocked and Loaded In Buffalo

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The T-Gun Is Cocked and Loaded In Buffalo
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As the 2008 season came to a close for the Buffalo Bills, fans were fed up with Dick Jauron’s conservative approach and it was expected that he would be fired.

To everyone’s dismay, he was retained, with owner Ralph Wilson citing longevity as the reason.

The pressure on head coach Dick Jauron to produce a winning team has never been stronger than this year, after two consecutive sub par 7-9 seasons. That pressure will be felt by all the coaches in the spirit of winning and losing as a team.

The use of an efficient running game mixed in with the occasional exciting pass play was a useful strategy implemented by Turk Schonert in the early part of the 2008 season as the Bills went 4-0. But it became more apparent for the rest of the season that opposing defenses could easily predict the next play as they double teamed Lee Evans and stacked the line to prevent the run.

A more wide open offense is needed to fix such a problem.

The obvious solution is throwing T.O. in the mix, signing running back depth, and picking up a tight end that can make an immediate impact.

For this purpose, the T-Gun is created.

Turk Schonert will be heading into his second season as offensive coordinator and he should be more comfortable implementing the tricks of the trade that were so effective in 2007 when, as quarterbacks coach, he oversaw the development of then rookie Trent Edwards.

Edwards became the most productive rookie passer in the NFL with five touchdowns and more passing yards than any other third round quarterback in NFL history.

To determine how efficient the T-Gun can be, you must look at the quarterback running the offense. Edwards, in his third year and second as a full time starter, will look to escape mediocrity and join the league’s elite in 2009.

In 23 games played, Edwards has won 12 and lost 11, thrown for 4,329 yards, 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, completed 60.8 percent of his passes, and has a passer rating of 79.1.

The T-Gun offense is expected to have many similarities to the Buffalo Bills offense in the 1990’s, the K-Gun, led by Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.

In Kelly’s first two years in the league he won 10 games and lost 18, threw for 6,391 yards, 41 touchdowns and 28 interceptions, completed 59.6 percent of his passes, and had an 83.5 passer rating.

Though the yardage and touchdowns are heavily in Kelly’s favor, the other numbers are quite comparable. Also, consider Kelly had two years USFL experience under his belt before joining the Bills.

After the Bills instituted the original K-Gun in 1989, the season after losing to the Bengals no-huddle offense in the AFC Championship, Kelly threw for 10 more touchdowns with 25 and his rating shot up from 78.2 to 86.2.

The K-Gun was most successful because of its fast pace, which denied opposing defenses the opportunity to make timely substitutions. This offensive scheme called for multiple formation calls in a huddle (four to six), so that after each play was completed, instead of huddling up the Bills would line up for the next play where Kelly would read the defense and audible the play. This led to mismatches and defensive communication breakdowns for opponents.

If Trent Edwards can progress through his reads effectively, the Bills will keep opposing defenses on their toes.

Don’t underestimate the knowledge of young quarterback Trent Edwards. He is a Stanford graduate who while in college worked as a intern for Synopsys (a world leader in electronic design automation), and as a quick learner was offered a job but decided instead to pursue a career in the NFL.

As the creator of the original K-Gun offense Marv Levy said systems don’t win games, “people and execution win games.”

If Edwards can pick up the T-Gun offense quickly, the 2009 Buffalo Bills offense will go from being lackluster to one of the most electrifying teams in the NFL. 

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