It took a little prodding from quarterback Jim Kelly, but the Buffalo Bills are saying yes to the no-huddle offense.
That is, yes to the no-huddle in situations other than when they are behind and desperately trying for a quick score.
The Bills have opened with the pass-happy attack in each of their last two games, and the results have been staggering. Nine days ago, it helped them jump to a 24-0 first-quarter lead on the way to a 30-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Sunday, it was a major factor in the Bills building a 14-0 first-quarter advantage en route to a 31-7 triumph over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bills also were in a no-huddle on their first drive (which produced a field goal) of their 26-10 season-opening win over the Colts Sept. 9. And they have gone to it in other non-two-minute situations of other games.
"I've always thrown my two cents in about it, because I feel really comfortable with it," Kelly said Monday. "Coach (Marv Levy) always leaves it up in the air whether we want to use it. But now I feel that he has the confidence, not only in myself but in the people around me, that we will get in the right position and we will execute the way it should be done."
It was in last year's overtime victory against the Houston Oilers that Kelly, already a master of the two-minute drill, first operated the no-huddle for an extended period.
After the 47-41 shoot-out, he went public with his desire to employ it regularly.
Levy and offensive coordinator Ted Marchibroda took the suggestion under consideration. However, it wasn't until watching the quarterback's brilliant execution of the no-huddle late in last January's playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns that they embraced the idea.
"It was an evolvement from the Houston game to the Cleveland game, and the Cleveland game definitely set the tone," Marchibroda said. "There were just so many games that he (Kelly) was so successful at it in two-minute situations to begin it, we thought, 'Why wouldn't he be successful at it during the regular course of the ballgame?' "
The coaches' decision of when and against whom to use the no-huddle goes beyond its quick-strike capability. They target specific elements of an opposing defense that look exploitable.
For example, the Colts' defensive linemen were injured and/or returning from layoffs because of injuries, so the Bills sought to wear them down with a faster-paced assault.
"In some games, such as the one against Philadelphia, we use it so a team doesn't have a lot of time to call its defensive signals," Levy explained. "In the opener against Indianapolis, we used it because we did feel there might be some element of surprise that they weren't quite ready for. And we've used it at other times during the course of a game where we feel we need to change the rhythm of a game."
Other advantages are that the defense often finds itself confused and doesn't have enough time to substitute players who are better suited for pass coverage.
Kelly works from a 12-play package, which varies according to the opponent.
"And there are many different formations that they can be run from, which is up to Jimmy," Marchibroda said. "Also, if he sees something he likes, he's free to go with it. He may want help occasionally, and maybe turn to us to see what defense they're in if they've changed up. But the game, basically, is his."
Still, Levy sees enough disadvantages to the no-huddle to avoid using it for most or all of a game.
"If you go three quick downs and out, you have your defense back on the field very fast," he said. "You also have a very limited package of plays while you're doing it; you don't have your whole broad offense available to you.
"And you're married to the personnel that's on the field at the time."
However, Marchibroda makes a key point: "Jimmy likes it, and we want to do what Jimmy likes to do."