This is no time for a laid back, play-not-to-lose mentally for the Buffalo Bills. This team, its coaches and its players, need to win. Now. They need to make it to the postseason for the first time since Frank Wychek threw a (forward) lateral to Kevin Dyson for a Miracle in the Music City that left Bills fans wondering, "Why us?"
For the past three seasons, each resulting in a 7-9 record, the Bills have played not to lose. They've shown intensity on each side of the ball when they needed to, but overall, they've come up short.
The timid play needs to end this season if the team is going to be playing beyond their January 3 season finale against the Colts.
So what do the Bills have in store as a result of the "win now, by any means necessary" mentality? How about a return to the glory days of the no-huddle offense.
Sam Wyche is known as the Godfather of the No-Huddle, and Bills offensivecoordinator Turk Schonert was Wyche's quarterbacks coach when he ran the offense in Tampa Bay in the '90s.
Seems like the perfect time for the offense to reemerge in Buffalo for the first time since Jim Kelly ran it flawlessly over a decade ago.
The Bills are fielding an offense this season with some of the league's top performers at the skill positions. Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and new addition Dominic Rhodes give the Bills all the power and quickness a team could hope for at the running back position.
But the signing of Terrell Owens is perhaps the biggest indicator that this team is ready to go for broke.
For once, the Bills will be able to keep opposing defenses honest with their number two option at receiver. Lee Evans will finally not be the only member of the receiving corps that draws attention and double-teams, because the Bills have given him another proven threat in Terrell Owens.
Both of these players have proven many times in the past that if you give them an inch, they can put six on the board.
The focus on passing won't be limited to the wide-outs, either. Fred Jackson has been putting a much bigger focus on his pass catching ability this offseason as he anticipates an expanded role in that phase of the Bills' game.
Marshawn Lynch is seen as one of the league's top dual-threat running backs, and this season he should have more of an opportunity to prove it.
And with a brand new offensive line that is likely have a few (or many) issues this season, the no-huddle can help mask their inexperience by wearing out the opposing team's front seven.
One of the major concerns regarding Buffalo's offense in 2008 was their inconsistency. In a number of games, they showed no ability to move the ball until the fourth quarter. And suddenly in the fourth quarter with their backs against the ropes they seemed like an offensive juggernaut.
Their backs will be against the ropes from the time they kickoff in New England until the end of the season this year, so expect to see an offense more capable of putting up large numbers.
On defense, a similar risk-tasking approach is expected. Defensive coordinator PerryFewell is putting more trust in his defensive backs this season, which will allow him to put more of an emphasis on blitz packages.
Trent Edwards has already noticed the new focus on blitzes in the team's OTAs. If his offense's struggles against the blitz are any indication, it should work to Buffalo's advantage in the fall.
Expect a return of the "creep" defense this year. In this look, all of Buffalo's front seven are standing around the line before the ball is snapped, giving the offense no indication of who will be coming on the blitz.
This defense could be especially effective if rookie Aaron Maybin and a healthy AaronSchobel have good seasons.
In the secondary, Terrence McGee will again be the top corner, and could be joined byLeodis McKelvin or Drayton Florence on the opposite side. Donte Whitner returns at strong safety with a battle likely for the free safety position.
Though his school's final exam schedule is keeping him from participating in OTAs, rookie Jairus Byrd is expected to make some noise at free safety.
The Bills face a tough schedule this season. There are no real opportunities to turn off the jets and coast to victories. They need to go all-out all the time.
This team should throw caution to the wind and play with a recklessness and desperation Upstate New York hasn't seen in some time.
Here's to hoping the coaches and players take advantage of this one last chance at success they've been given.
Because if they don't, the impact will be felt far beyond the head coach.