Before I start, I’m not a Buffalo Bills, not an NFL fan, not a fan of any NFL player. I’m a fan of one part of the sport. I am the underdog. I root for the underdog. I love seeing the underdog beat the bully.
For two years in the early 1990’s, I coached linebackers at Jim Kelly’s Camp in Olean, New York. Awesome experience. I coached 51 linebackers both years. Serious kids who took the sport seriously and took training even more seriously. I was in my element. Worked them hard 3 times a day. They responded with extraordinary effort.
The camp was held at the height of the K-Gun era, during the Bills’ run as 4-time AFC champs. Their offense was as potent as any offense in NFL history. Their no-huddle was machine-like. Almost unstoppable. Kelly held great coaching clinics both years. I studied a lot of film. Learned a lot. I had started using a high-speed no-huddle two years earlier. The K-Gun helped me believe I wasn’t crazy, that a high-speed no-huddle could work consistently. Designing a no-huddle system isn’t easy. You need an air-tight language and an even more air-tight decision-making model for the quarterback to make split-second smart calls. And it’s harder to teach. But the challenge is worth it because a no-huddle offense is explosive. It has the capacity to run any defense into the ground.
The K-Gun showed the football world that defenses cannot handle the pressure of a high-speed no-huddle. Defenses are not used to the velocity of thought and action. And no defense has the stamina and strength to keep-up to the hurry-up pace for one simple reason – defenses don’t train that way. Defenses don’t train like no-huddle offenses, physically or mentally. Defenses are conditioned to expect 40-second recovery-time between plays. When an offense reduces that by 80%, it messes with defense’s collective mindset. It’s culture shock.
Some NFL and NCAA teams are using no-huddle to some degree but what baffles me is how the K-Gun didn’t influence the football world more than it did. The K-Gun proved a number of things but none more important than this – the same 11 guys can’t play defense for an entire drive. Defenses have evolved. They’ve become specialty units, using mass substitutions for specific downs and distance. The K-Gun forced NFL defenses to play with the same 11. They showed it can’t be done because defenses are not coached that way. Defenses aren’t coached to use the same 11 players.
If the Bills had not lost all 4 Super Bowls, the NFL would be the NHL – a No-Huddle League. Generally, football coaches are conformists. Very few are original. Football is a copy-cat sport. If the Bills had won even one Super Bowl with the K-Gun, the huddle would be extinct today. I still believe it will happen someday. A no-huddle team will win a Super Bowl soon and the huddle will gradually disappear. I believe that and hope it will happen because football can be a supremely boring sport. The majority of a football game is down-time – huddling and walking back and forth to the huddle. Do the math. A small percentage of a typical football is actual football. But, like with all myths, many people have been brainwashed to believe that the conventional huddle somehow is stimulating and exciting.
The K-Gun was one of the most potent, exciting offenses in NFL history. If you get a chance, find some film and watch a K-Gun game from the past. In comparison, today’s game is played in slow-motion.