In light of all of the talk surrounding the comparisons of the 90's Bills teams and this years squad I decided to take a deeper look player by player. This is the Second part of the two part series that will examine the offenses from and for the perspective rosters of 1990 and 2009. After seeing the defensive piece slammed a bit from misinterpretation, the purpose of the comparison is to show what COULD be in 2009. People expected the Bills to be a good team in 1990, but were not expected begin the march of 4 straight superbowl appearances. If you can find evidence someone predicted that in 1989 or 1990 please post it! Tim Graham among others brought up discussions about a No-huddle offense being reinstated in Buffalo this season. The no-huddle offense was off and running in 1990 behind the signal calling of Jim Kelly. The Buffalo offense featured two dynamic receivers, Two great running backs, a versatile tight end, a humongous experienced offensive line, and of course a now hall of fame quarterback. Going into 1990 the Bills looked good on paper. In 2009 we find the same situation come to fruition. The 2009 paper roster shows a Dynamic receiver Duo, solid young Tight End prospects, a Large, but inexperienced offensive line, 3 great running backs, and an up and coming quaterback. My intention here like the defensive peice is to show how the teams were built and run. Also to show what it will take statistically to be a contender. Another important thing to note is that in order for the team to succeed in the Wins column with the No-huddle offense, they must have a young resilient defense. Bruce Smith often commented on how much time the defense had to spend on the field because the offense quote on quote "scored too damn fast". Much like 1990, the defense doesn't have to hold teams to 10 points or fewer, but just out last the other team's offense. Take a look at the stats and have fun with the comment section. And please Buffalo Bills Fans, it has been awhile since we have seen the playoffs, but a little optimism would be nice for a change.
LT- Howard Ballard- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 11th round of the 1987 NFL Draft, 1990 was Ballard's first All-Pro like season of his career at tackle in my opinion. Ballard was a gigantic man nicknamed "House" Ballard with light feet that kept pass rushers at bay and crushed the opposing defense in the run.
LT- Langstan Walker- acquired via free agency from Oakland in 2006, Walker has been the Bills most consistent Tackle. Like Ballard, Walker is a consistent pass protector. Walker will need to be a monster in the run to compare them after this year. Walker will really need to hit his prime this year to even start to compare the two Tackles.
RT- Will Wolford- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round of the 1986 NFL Draft, Wolford was a massive individual that played 12 strong years in the NFL. Wolford's strength was pass protection. The K-gun came to life with great OT play in Buffalo in 1990.
RT- Brad Butler- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 5th round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Butler has started two full seasons at Right Guard for the Bills. Butler played tackle at Virginia during college and looks to resume that role this season at the Pro level. Butler is a bit undersized for an "ideal" NFL tackle, but protecting the strong side for Edwards takes some of the pressure off of him. Butler will need to play like a veteran tackle this year to run the no-huddle offense. Both Wolford and Butler possess a mean mentality crucial to a good ground attack.
OG- John Davis- acquired via free agency from Houston in 1989, Davis became a staple in the interior of the line. Great run blocking skills and a mean streak were his strengths.
OG- Eric Wood- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Eric Wood assumes the starting role at guard for the Bills this year. Wood is a large nasty interior lineman. If Eric Wood is NFL ready, look for the left side of the line to be a developing strength in 2009.
OG- Jim Richter- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Richter was the Savvy veteran of the Bills offensive Line. Moving into the end of his career, Richter had his best years through the late 80's and into the early 90's. This is the one area the 2009 Bills O-line lacks: Experience!
OG- Andy Levitre- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Levitre assumes a starting role at guard for the Bills this year as well. While neither Levitre nor Wood have the Experience Richter and Davis had....Experience in the Interior line is not as Prevalent as the skill positions in the Offense. Both have the athleticism to get up and down the field like Richter and Davis. Both will need to be franchise type guards this season for the No- Huddle to get off and running.
C- Kent Hull- Signed as an Undrafted Free agent in 1986, Kent Hull was the Centerpiece to the Bills championship offensive line. Hull was the leader and signal caller in front of Kelly. Hull was the most reliable lineman and had no weaknesses as an NFL player. Hall of Fame Induction to prove it.
C- Geoff Hangartner- acquired via free agency from Carolina in 2009, Geoff looks to become the new signal caller in Buffalo. Brought in with rookie guards, Hangartner will have the chance to become the no huddle signal caller at the line. Built like Hull at 320 pounds Hangartner has experience in this league and was paid for it this year. I believe if he can read the defenses this year with Edwards the line has a chance to blossom.
TE- Keith McKeller- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 9th round of the 1987 NFL Draft, McKeller- had a unique set of skills that lead to the K-Gun being named after him. McKeller caught 44 passes for 464 and 5 TD in 1990. McKeller could stretch the field or lay down a great run block. His play alone put pressure on the defense packages to account for him.
TE- Shawn Nelson- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Nelson will be expected to make an impact in Buffalo immediately. The No huddle offense depends on great tight end play. While Fine in slated to start this year Nelson possesses the developing skill set to mirror McKeller's TE production in 1990. This is the second biggest question mark for the No-Huddle offense in 2009.
WR- Andre Reed- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 4th round of the 1985 NFL Draft, Andre Reed caught 71 passes for 945 yards and 8 TD in 1990. Reed was a diamond in the rough draft pick out of Kutztown University of PA. Reed could cross or stretch the field creating great separation from defenders. With the addition of James Lofton, Reed saw less double teams and more opportunities. Reed is clearly the best Buffalo Bill receiver of all time.
WR- Lee Evans- selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round of the 2004 Draft, Lee Evans has been the most consistent wide receiver for the Bills. With lightning speed and great hands Evans is Buffalo's Number one receiver. This year expect to see more of a Reed type receiver. Crossing the Middle of the field in space to get open and run after the catch. With the addition of Owens, Evans constant double coverage by defenses is over, especially in a no-huddle package.
WR- James Lofton- acquired by the Buffalo Bills via free agency from Los Angeles in 1989, Lofton Brought a deep threat back to Buffalo. Lofton caught 35 passes for 712 yards and 4 TD with an incredible 20.3 yards per catch average. Critics claimed Lofton's skills had diminished and he wouldn't be the same receiver in Buffalo. As the stats tell you he could still run and catch. Sound familiar? That's right some of the same comments made about the career point for Terrell Owens this year.
WR- Terrell Owens- acquired via free agency from Dallas in 2009, Owens like Lofton is one of the greatest receivers of all time. Struck with a controversial personality hungry for a Superbowl Owens gives Buffalo that 2 receiver look of the 1990 Bills team. It is easy to see why the no-huddle can make sense this year and where the comparisons come from. Owens may be getting older, but if teams elect to double cover Evans once again this year, Owens can't be covered one on one.....Period. 139 career TD. Enough said.
RB- Thurman Thomas- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 2nd round of the 1988 NFL Draft, Thomas has been thought the steal of the 1988 draft. Thomas recorded 271 carries for 1297 yard and 11 TD in 1990. Thurman also had 40 receptions for 532 yards and 2 TD in 1990. Thurman was the perfect back for the no-huddle offense. Equipped with good speed, soft hands and a punishing running mental, the Thurminator could do it all folks. While Thomas wasn't the fastest running back, he could burn the defense in the open field much like our 2009 tailback Lynch.
RB- Marshawn Lynch- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Marshawn is Buffalo's number one tailback headed into the 2009 season. Well at least beginning in week 3 anyhow. Lynch rushed 250 times for 1,036 yards and 8 TD in 2008. Lynch also caught 47 receptions for 300 yards and 1 TD. Based on the stats Thomas and Lynch put up similar numbers heading into the prime of their career. If Lynch finds himself running behind an improved offensive line this year, look for Thomas like numbers out of the backfield.
RB- Kenneth Davis- acquired via free agency from Green Bay in 1989, Davis was the 2 of the 1-2 punch for the Bills running game. Davis carried the ball 64 times for 302 yards and 4 TD. Davis also had 9 catches for 78 and 1 TD in 1990. Davis did most of his damage in the no-huddle offense. A draw type running back, Davis was big and could stretch the field. Much like Fred Jackson in Buffalo, when Davis came into the game the Bills didn't lose much talent at the position.
RB- Fred Jackson- acquired from the European League Rhein Fire in 2007 Jackson has solidified the backfield for Buffalo. Jackson saw a large workload last year as the compliment back to Marshawn Lynch. Jackson rushed 130 time for 571 yards and 3 TD. These numbers are similar to Davis especially in Yards per carry with Davis at 4.7 and Jackson at 4.4. Obviously Davis didn't get as many touches in 1990 as Jackson will in 2009. Look for this two headed monster to put up better numbers than the 1990 Bills running backs in 2009. Also important to mention Dominic Rhodes will have a say in production this season as well.
QB- Jim Kelly- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 1st round of the 1983 NFL Draft, Kelly could be the Greatest Buffalo Bills QB of all time. Kelly had one of his best years in 1990. Kelly completed 219 (63.3%) for 2, 829 yards, 24 TD and 9 INTs. Kelly was only sacked 20 times in 1990 behind his previously mentioned outstanding Young offensive line. I am not going to compare the 1990 Kelly and 2009 Edwards. It would be silly to do so. It is important however for Bills fans to remember Kelly was not an All- pro over night. He had a knack for throwing interceptions when things broke down.
QB- Trent Edwards- Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 3rd round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Edwards is the future of Buffalo (thus far). Edwards is a smart quarterback with great accuracy. Edwards does a nice job distributing the ball in the offense. Clearly Edwards is the biggest question mark heading into 2009. As Brian always says this is a quarterback's league. I don't care who is at receiver if Edwards can't run the Helm this year. Edwards has shown brilliant moments and is certainly smart enough to run a no-huddle offense. The question is can the offensive line keep him upright. Also does he have the arm to play in bad weather games in the Northeast of this great country? Tune into the 2009 version of the no-huddle to see if any of these comparisons pan out!