there are many reasons to be excited about the new offensive regime under head coach and offensive coordinator chan gailey. below, i discuss a few of the reasons why i am looking forward to the 2010 season, in light of what i have seen during the preseason through three games
in my view, the improvement in the play of trent edwards this preseason is a direct product of chan gailey's offensive philosophy, which it seems edwards has already taken to heart.
one of the most important factors in a successful offense is unpredictability. gailey has demonstrated in three preseason games that there is nothing predictable about his play calling. this has huge dividends for any offense, assuming they can execute the plays called.
another factor in a successful offense is getting players to catch passes while in movement, as opposed to standing still or coming back towards the ball. we have seen gailey design passes for players to catch the ball while moving at full or close to full speed. this has two obvious benefits. first, it increases the odds of there being space between the receiver and the defender. second, it increases the odds of yards after catch. and third, it helps fast and shifty pass catchers like parrish and spiller avoid being pounded when they do catch the ball. the only issue is for the quaterback: a moving target is generally more difficult than a target more or less stationary. edwards is an accurate thrower of the ball, and does not seem to have a problem so far in hitting gailey's more mobile targets.
perhaps the most important change in the gailey regime is in pure coaching. it seems as if edwards, parrish and perhaps rookies like nelson understand the importance of perfection in running routes and throwing the ball. but edwards has also shown another quality: getting rid of the ball when there is no play to be had, which he exhibited to perfection this past week against the bengals.
finally, there is the fundamental element of common sense in gailey's philosophy, reflected in the drafting of spiller and the elevation of parrish to starter status. speed kills, and the lack of speed has been a buffalo offensive problem for years now. in the case of parrish, he was not being used effectively in the past. clearly, a player's sense of being ignored can contribute to loss of morale. parrish seems to believe his skills and talent will finally offer him quality opportunities on the offense to be a difference maker, as he was against the bengals. but gailey's common sense in drafting spiller is also already apparent: he watched, for two years, arguably the best offensive player in college football and decided he could make everyone else on the bills offense better as a result. now the bills have a three headed monster in the backfield, and with the wildcat becoming a part of the mix for many nfl teams, few other offenses offer a better potential wildcat than buffalo.
not mentioned much so far, the other brilliant stroke with spiller as a speed demon in the backfield has to do with the problem of the pass rush for buffalo and trent edwards. with spiller on the field of play, all defenses will need to think twice about blitzing, since a draw or a screen or a swing pass, much less a one on one going down the sideline with spiller against any linebacker would be a serious threat at any moment. common sense says create problems for the defense, and mask your offensive weaknesses. as we have already seen, spiller has magically done both already this preseason.
when it comes to winning in the nfl, it is a cliche to say the better QB on the field usually takes his team to victory. the preseason pundits have all put edwards fourth on the list of afc east QBs. while this seems predictable, given the low status of buffalo football the past decade, it also reflects an underestimation of gailey's skill as an offensive philosopher, as well as practicioner. edwards has always been highly accurate. what he always lacked was a top notch offensive mind behind him. now he has that, and with arguably two more lethal weapons to play with, and a coach who knows how to call a game, the sky may be the limit for the offense and edwards in 2010.
yet to be seen of course, and the major caveat in any serious optimistic appraisal of the offense for buffalo this year, is whether or not the weakness at the tackle position is overdone, or capable of being overcome. health is key, since there is little to no depth.
i assume most bills' fans and the braintrust at one bills drive are scanning the waiver wires as i write this, and even more so next week, to pick up some more tackle depth, if not by trade.