Bills try to balance out problems with offense This season, club not passing up run SUPER BOWL XXVII

January 29, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Amid the ruins of Super Bowl XXVI a year ago, the Buffalo Bills were forced to ask themselves this &L question:

Were NFL defenses finally catching up with quarterback Jim Kelly's famed no-huddle offense?

Kelly had thrown three interceptions in the first 31 minutes against Washington as the Redskins grabbed a 24-0 lead in last year's Super Bowl. What offense Kelly generated with the three-wide receiver set was too little, too late. The Bills were humbled, 37-24.

"A year ago, when we were only doing three wides, we felt there bTC was that danger, that we were becoming too predictable," Tom Bresnahan, Buffalo's offensive coordinator, said yesterday.

"Last winter as a staff, with Marv [Levy] as the catalyst, we made a determination we would try to run more than last year. . . . because we thought after analyzing last season that we became too pass-oriented."

Fast forward to Sunday and Super Bowl XXVII against Dallas. The Bills will attempt to disrupt the NFL's No. 1 defense with a more diversified, more balanced attack.

This season, they have used different players and more formations in the no-huddle scheme.

The question now is, is this Bills' offense better than last year's?

"I'm not going to say it's better," Bresnahan said, "but I will say it's more balanced, because the statistics prove that."

The statistics show the Bills called 46 more passes than runs a year ago, when they led the league with 390.7 total yards a game.

This year, they called 11 more runs than passes, but offensive production was down to 368.4 yards. That was still good enough for second in the NFL.

More problematic, though, was Kelly's performance. His touchdowns dropped from 33 to 23, and his interceptions rose from 17 to 19.

Not surprisingly, Bresnahan, who became offensive coordinator after Ted Marchibroda left to join the Indianapolis Colts, took the blame.

Sunday, he will either shuck off that blame or it will intensify.

"We're very concerned about turning the ball over, and Jim is, too," said Bresnahan, who was the offensive line coach under George Welsh at Navy from 1973 to 1980. "But the worst thing you can do to a quarterback is try to inhibit his enthusiasm for getting the ball down the field to his receiver.

"What we have to make sure he understands is this team [Dallas] is going to force us to be patient. We don't expect big plays. They may happen by luck, if one of their guys falls down, but we've got to be patient."

In some cases, patience has been a difficult lesson. Pro Bowl wideout Andre Reed complained when his 1992 regular-season numbers (65 catches, 3 TDs) were short of his 1991 numbers (81 catches, 10 TDs).

"We have a new offensive coordinator and we weren't taking as many chances," Reed said. "It was disappointing to a certain degree. But there are 26 other teams disappointed, and a lot of guys who had a lot more catches than me, they're not playing in the Super Bowl. At this point in my career, that's all I want right now, a Super Bowl ring."

Bresnahan can sympathize with Reed's plight. He said Reed was double-covered on "almost every play."

"One of the things we want to do this winter is evaluate how we can do a better job of trying to get him open. He's an explosive player."

The fate of the Bills' no-huddle offense may depend on it.

In transition

A comparison of the Bills' offensive yardage averages this year and last:

Year.. .. .. .. ..Total.. .. .. ..Rush.. .. .. .. Pass

1992 .. .. .. .. ..368.4 .. .. .. 152.3 .. .. .. . 216.1

1991 .. .. .. .. . 390.7 .. .. .. 148.8 .. .. .. . 241.9

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