The Game Before the Money Podcast spoke with Marv Levy about the how the Bills no-huddle offense started — in Episode 10 of the football history podcast.
The Beginning of the Bills No-Huddle Offense
The Bills made it all the way to the AFC championship in Thurman Thomas’ rookie year of 1988. Buffalo made the playoffs again in 1989. They played Cleveland in the wildcard round. The Browns had a good-sized lead going into the fourth quarter. Marv Levy turned to his offensive coordinator, Ted Marchibroda, and offensive line coach Tom Bresnahan with an idea.Embed from Getty Images
Coach Levy said, “I said to Ted, our offensive coordinator, and to Bresnahan. ‘We’re not going to wait till the end of the game to go to our two-minute drill. Let’s go to our two-minute drill right now.’ They said, ‘Of course.’
“We take it, and we march down the field. Jim Kelly, is our quarterback engineering it. We scored, got the ball back, and march down the field with about three minutes to go. We scored again. Now we’re down by four.”
Coach Levy added: “Somehow we made them punt with a minute and thirty seconds to go. We march down the field again using our no-huddle. Get down to about the 10-yard line, and Ronnie Harmon, on a fourth down, tries to look down to be sure his feet are in bounds in the end zone. He couldn’t hang on to it, so we lost the game. We were eliminated.”Embed from Getty Images
“We were walking off the field after the game, Ted on one side of me and Tom Bresnehan on the other. And we’re looking at each other. And I said, ‘Ted, you know what? Why don’t we make that our offense next year?’ And he said to me, ‘I was just gonna say that to you!’ Tom Bresnahan was on the other side of me and said, ‘So as I!’ So the next year was our no-huddle offense.”
When did the Bills No-Huddle Offense Start?
The Bills no-huddle offense started during the 1989 AFC Wildcard game. Marv Levy and his offensive coaches came up with the idea to respond to the Browns fourth-quarter lead. Although the Bills still lost the game, their offense exploded the next year, fueled by the no-huddle offense.
Bills Offense Exploded with K-Gun Offense
The Bills offense exploded in 1990, fueled by the no-huddle offense, sometimes referred to as the K-Gun offense. While, it’s easy to think the K-Gun name started because of Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, legend has it that it was actually named for tight end Keith McKeller.
In 1990, the Bills hurry-up offense left many NFL defenses on their heels and put a lot of points on the scoreboard.
Coach Levy credited several players. He said, “With Jim Kelly, of course, the great engineer of it. His fantastic backup quarterback Frank Reich and the most unbelievable center you can ever imagine in Kent Hull, who relayed our line blocking schemes in the wink of an eye on every play and then blocked some 300-pound nose tackle across from him.”
During the regular season, there were nine quarters that the Bills scored at least 14 points. They scored at least 20 points in a quarter five times.
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