August is a time for free-spirited — and borderline asinine — experimentation in the NFL.
In 2001, the Dallas Cowboys dangled Quincy Carter out to defenses like a juicy earthworm in Lake Erie. Jerry Jones had his handpicked quarterback operating the triple-option offense. Carter shimmied down the line throughout the preseason, a mere millisecond away from a career-ending blindside hit.
Turns out, Carter's erratic play and love of marijuana was career-killing enough.
Still, Dallas' wild trial by fire that preseason fortified the purpose of the preseason. Nobody will call you stupid. Dream big. Heck, you can try Globetrotter-like fake punts without thinking twice.
With such a green light hovering over the entire league, it begs one mega-watt question here in Buffalo: Is this no-huddle offense for real? In one series against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, the new K-Gun flickered hope. Trent Edwards hit Terrell Owens twice for 27 yards. The offense was moving in unison, in sync. The defense couldn't blink. And one poor block/errant throw spoiled an otherwise promising drive.
After the game, players promised this no-huddle offense is not playground nonsense. It's real, they say. It's in the team's regular-season plans, they say. If so, buckle up. The fun-meter will crank up to a Brian Campbell-smashing-R.J. Umberger level.
For an offense that has spent an entire decade hunting for an identity, reincarnating the K-Gun is genius. There's nothing to lose. Without a proven, rock-solid offensive line, the Bills shouldn't hold back. Dick Jauron needs to suppress his ball-control conscience. No use trying to rear games into droned out slugfests this year. There's no guarantee this retooled offensive line could win such a game.
Andy Levitre and Eric Wood might be long-term answers, but Sunday hinted at the steep learning curve all rookie linemen face. At left tackle, Langston Walker remains the team's biggest concern. At right tackle, Brad Butler is banged up.
So why not pull the slots for good on this no-huddle offense? The team already gambled on Owens. Gambling on an intramural-like, grip-it-and-rip-it offense only makes sense. Desperation can be a deadly weapon when channeled in the right direction. Owens opens the door for the hurry-up offense. Defenses suddenly have to account for an abundance of weapons and skill sets.
Of course, a no-huddle offense is disastrous without the proper personnel. A herky-jerky J.P. Losman taking snaps, confused Willis McGahee picking holes and no receivers capable of getting separation would have looked like a Chinese fire drill — a turnover risk every play.
This year, Buffalo has the big guns to bring back the K-Gun: a heady quarterback capable of making on-the-fly adjustments (Edwards), a running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield (Fred Jackson), a match-up nightmare at wide receiver (Owens), and — this is where Buffalo goes for the jugular — Lee Evans exposing those defensive backs scrambling in coverage with the occasional bomb.
Mix in some bruising carries from Marshawn Lynch and suddenly the Bills boast an offense capable of exploding for 30 points any given game. In a way, the hurry-up helps hide deficiencies on the O-Line. Edwards-thirsty like pass rushers Joey Porter have less time to pin their ears and go.
Unlike other divisions, there is no dead weight in the AFC East. Complacency can't fly. New England is getting one of the best quarterbacks ever back. Miami is adding Jason Taylor to the league's best pass rush. And the Jets landed a franchise quarterback. Everyone improved. Everyone tweaked a tad to gear up for this four-horse race.
When the Bills inked Terrell Owens in March, they may have swallowed a $6.5 million poison pill. At any moment, T.O. could snap. At any moment, something as innocent as this toe injury can escalate into a team-killing power struggle with coaches. No athlete in sports is as pampered, as paranoid, as narcissistic as Owens.
Maybe such an offense would simultaneously tame Owens' evil side. He won't have a chance to lobby for the ball between plays. No time for mid-game, series-killing whining sessions in Edwards' ear.
The free-wheeling offense puts a temporary muzzle on Owens. And his play alone makes the no-huddle a reality.
Only a handful of wideouts in the league can sprint — striking fear with each stride — and stop on a dime to catch a deep out as Owens did against the Titans. His talent hasn't declined the least bit.
Unchained in the K-Gun, Owens could make this perpetually lame offense electric. Buffalo has nothing to lose.
Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of BuffaloFootballReport.com and also writes for the Buffalo News, Olean Times Herald and the Packer Report.com.