BATAVIA – Perhaps it's premature to start calling him Coach Kelly.
Still, it sure sounds as if former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly has something approaching an official role in helping with the development of his latest successor, Josh Allen.
Kelly revealed at his celebrity golf tournament at Terry Hills Golf Course on Monday that he has been collaborating with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and new quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey on ways to enhance Allen's improvement from his rookie year in 2018.
"I've been sitting in some meetings with the offense," Kelly, the Pro Football Hall of Famer, told reporters. "Me and Coach Daboll went through a lot. And Ken Dorsey, of course, being a (fellow former) University of Miami quarterback and part of 'The U,' I've been in a couple meetings with them."
According to Kelly, they have discussed what the Bills were doing during their heyday when he ran the K-Gun no-huddle attack on the way to four consecutive Super Bowls. Kelly said elements of the scheme are going to be part of what the Bills do this season.
"They've downloaded (video) all of our four Super Bowl seasons to see what we've done," he said. "And Josh loves some of the plays that we ran. So we're going to be, of course, implementing some of those."
Kelly declared himself a fan of Allen's game a year ago. He continues to feel that way.
"I love the way he plays," Kelly said. "He's 10 times the athlete I ever thought about being."
He then added the "chances" Allen takes with the extensive running he did as a rookie.
"And he just needs to know that he has to stay safe," Kelly said. "He's got to be able to get down when he has to get down and play now knowing that, yes, there's chances you can't take. But take them when you need to. The difference between a 20- or 30-yard run can be the difference between you missing a couple of games.
"But, overall, I love what I see. I've been to a couple of practices. I love his arm. And probably more than just that, I love the way he gets in the huddle and talks to the players. I think I said this last year, too, but, again, I see it this year: when they run a route or they're in seven-on-seven or team drill, they come back (after a play), he automatically is talking to the receiver they threw to or talking to another receiver you didn't throw to."
Kelly compared the interaction to the kind he had with receivers Andre Reed, James Lofton and Don Beebe.
"When you watch film – and I know mine's a little different because I called all the plays – but you have to be on the same page," Kelly said. "And when you have a quarterback that's willing to say something, talk and be able to communicate with your receivers on what you're doing, that's a huge, huge start. Because you have to have confidence in what they do. And from everything I've seen – and I'm not there all the time – I love it. I'm excited, I really am."
Former Bills General Manager Bill Polian, who played in Kelly's tournament, thinks there is good reason for that. He predicts Allen is "going to be a whole lot better" than he was last season.
"The biggest jump a player makes is between their first and second years," said Polian, who also was the President and General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts while Peyton Manning was quarterback. "So he'll be comfortable in the offense, he'll be comfortable knowing what's expected of him, he'll be comfortable knowing what he's playing against. But there's still a learning curve. And I think he'll have learn when to run and when not to run. Don't take unnecessary chances, but he's a playmaker, so he's going to do that. But it's all part of the maturity factor. Everybody should keep in mind, it was three years before we won anything with Jim. And Peyton's rookie year was the worst, at that point in history. So it's a work in progress, but he's on the right track."
"I know we all look forward to the season," Kelly said. "You see the big pluses, the changes you make, but what we have, I like it. It all starts with the guy under the center."