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K-Gun and Done?

Sometimes, you need a breather; just ask the barely five-and-three Buffalo Bills: Over the past few days, everyone from Allen to the practice squad hanger-ons has nodded to the need for a bit of rest and recovery. But beneath this obvious need, I’d like to point out something that we uncovered during the Bills’ 24-18; and it’s an old trope: One that brought us to the brink of multiple Super Bowl victories in the 80’s and 90’s.

I’m talking about the hurry-up offense. The no-huddle. The foot-on-the-larynx “O” that we really haven’t seen unveiled all too often this season. And granted, Tasker and Brownie made the fair point, on One Bills Live, that Tampa Bay was able to eventually dial in on the limited play-sheet we were running in the first three quarters of Thursday night’s win; however, it was too little, too late for the Bucs. We’d gassed them already.

The obvious strategic benefit of running a modern K-Gun offense is that–if you have the horses, and you do it right–the defense is only able to adjust to your game plan with the players they have on the field. If an offense can successfully keep their collective feet on the proverbial gas, while stacking up 1st downs, the defense begins to get gassed, pretty quickly.

As effective as this game plan was, for the first three quarters, any semi-competent defensive coordinator will eventually make adjustments or catch onto the flow of play. Todd Bowles and his emotionless perma-scowl may appear like dry television comedy, but the dude is no joke. He knows how to run a defense, and you’re not going to fool him forever. Tampa ended up making it a game, as the Bills were unable to close things out with Murray’s ineffective short yardage attempts (tip of the old hat to Beane for responding with the Playoff Lenny signing).

And therein lies the defect in running a no-huddle offense: Executing at that kind of a pace requires a limited palette of play-calls, and if you cannot keep the chains moving, the opponent will wear down your defense, since a K-Gun offense is built for speed, and not for the grind. Effectively, it means that JA17 needs to make quick reads and flip among a super-limited set of plays. Eventually, a good defense will adjust, and if you don’t have an RB who can get 3.333334 yards per carry, the gas will run out pretty quickly.

As fun as it was to watch Buffalo roll the Bucs for a few quarters, you have to think that this high-tempto offensive strategy isn’t going to fly against the likes of Lou Anarumo, the Bengals’ mad genius defensive coordinator. We’re going to need a different script…

Or at least maybe some new plot twists.

Obviously, Ken Dorsey’s 12-Personnel dream is languishing with both Knox and Quentin Morris hampered by injuries. Credit to the much-maligned Bills’ O.C. for pivoting into an entirely divergent offense; it worked… at least long enough to sink the Buccaneers’ ship, but we are going to need more to keep up with Joe Burrrr and the “Who Dey?” cult.

I have a feeling that this game–given last year’s history with Cincy–already has enough media hype; it doesn’t need another angle or another person pointing out just how significant of a game it is, but I’m not saying that this is a generally significant game; I am saying that this may be the most significant turning-point in Ken Dorsey’s nascent career. Can our O.C. respond with the right formula for befuddling Anarumo? Will he add some spice to the resurrected K-Gun, will he shift among a handful of offensive approaches, or will he reinvent the wheel entirely? We won’t know until the Bills take the field on Sunday night, but it is certainly going to be incredibly interesting to see Dorsey’s approach. As much hype as there is surrounding this game–from the Hamlin incident to Frazier’s baffling bennnnnnnnnnnnnnd and barf-on-oneself defense in last season’s playoff debacle–what I’m most intrigued about is how Ken Dorsey comes out and attacks Anarumo’s defense. That game-within-the-game is what I’m here for, and I hope you are as well.

Tim Avery - 11/1/2023

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