As I'm sure you're well aware, the Buffalo Bills have fired offensive coordinator Turk Schonert. Bills head coach Dick Jauron made the move early Friday morning, tabbing quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt to call plays for the team's new look no-huddle offense.
Buffalo will travel to New England to take on the Patriots in each team's regular season opener. That happens in ten days. Although there isn't much to transition here - we are talking about the same scheme, plays and personnel, after all - that's still a little disconcerting. This will be interesting to watch. Our break-down of what the offensive game-planning hierarchy will look like is after the jump.
Three-headed game planning
Van Pelt has not been given an official title at press time; whether he's an offensive coordinator or a passing game coordinator, however, NFL.com's Jason La Canfora has already informed the public that Van Pelt will call plays. Eric Studesville, who was the team's running game coordinator (as well as the running backs coach), will retain that responsibility.
Both Van Pelt and Studesville are likely to put heads together with Jauron himself to put together game plans on a weekly basis. The goals? Speed up the no-huddle offense (no, it's not going anywhere, folks), simplify the reads for QB Trent Edwards, and let the team's immense skill talent on the offensive side of the ball make the plays. Before he left, Schonert would devise a game plan based on personnel input from his position coaches as well as with Jauron; now, three coaches will be putting together game plans behind the scenes.
As previously mentioned, Van Pelt will call plays - meaning he will radio plays in to Edwards from the sidelines. The plan all along with the no-huddle, however, has been to allow Edwards to call his own plays with guidance, roughly meaning that Van Pelt will give him a play package based off of formation and Edwards will make the play call based on the defense. With a slimmer playbook geared toward better utilizing the strengths of each skill player, this is something Edwards should grow quickly with. This was, after all, the theory behind the no-huddle in the first place.
Simply put, the Bills want to be less complicated, and they want to attack more. They also want Edwards to develop a feel for attacking defenses, which is why they're going to approach play calling in this specific fashion.
The timing of the move
Many folks look at the moves made by Kansas City and Tampa Bay and liken this move to those decisions. That's not completely accurate. KC is in the first year of a transition to a new head coach, and Todd Haley is coming off of a Super Bowl appearance as a play caller. Chan Gailey wasn't running his system, and Haley is a bit of a control freak. Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, Jeff Jagodzinski was also installing a brand new offense, and now Greg Olson takes over.
In Buffalo, there is no switch in terminology. There will be no adjustment period for the players. Van Pelt will simply use Schonert's scheme and terminology to attack defenses in a different, hopefully more effective way. Van Pelt can also pick up where Schonert left off in game planning for New England, adjust it slightly, and move forward.
Now, if one wants to make the argument that the move should have been made, oh, last January? That's probably valid. But the Bills are in a more comfortable situation today than they were yesterday, so it's a baby step in the right direction. There's a long way to go. This is going to be interesting to watch unfold, at the very least.