Whenever a new coach is brought in and new schemes are introduced, one thing that always seems to find its way into the headlines is the potential for some aspect of the team's history to be brought back to the forefront. When Jim Harbaugh took over the San Francisco 49ers, fans were rabid and frothing at the mouth over the possibility of the return of the West Coast Offense (even a heavily modified one).
For the Buffalo Bills, there's one connection that could have fans just as, if not more, excited: the K-Gun.
Of course, it's not on the same level of Bill Walsh's total revamp of the passing game but, in its time, it was one of the most effective and feared offenses in the NFL. New Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett happens to have a connection to the K-Gun, too.
As noted by Ian Rapoport on Twitter, Hackett was an assistant with the Bills in 2008, and was given the K-Gun playbook by former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. If you're just tuning in, Kelly was the man who ran the K-Gun in the '90s. Hackett leaned heavily on the K-Gun, or aspects of it, while coaching at Syracuse this past season.
What exactly is the K-Gun? To put it simply, the K-Gun was the first implementation of the no-huddle offense that was run from start to finish for any given game over the course of an entire season. The purpose of the K-Gun is to deny opposing defenses the opportunity to get properly lined up, or even the opportunity to get their proper substitutions in.
The NFL eventually changed the rules to force the offense to allow the defense to make responsive substitutions but, at its core, the K-Gun or no-huddle is designed to keep a defense off balance. When implemented properly, it has had some amazing results.
In short, they would start with a huddle, call multiple formations and then line up, at which point the quarterback would make calls at the line. After the play, they'd line up, and the quarterback would run with one of the plays discussed prior to the series starting, with potential audibles thrown in.
The Bills were the first team to take the offense to the next level and use it throughout the course of entire games for several seasons. In other words, the Bills went into every game running the no-huddle as their primary means of attack, and didn't abandon it if a game didn't particularly go their way.
Their implementation, the K-Gun as we've already noted, was named after tight end Keith McKeller, who was an effective weapon for Kelly, the player many mistake as the namesake for the scheme.
Call one season of the K-Gun's success lightning in a bottle, dumb luck, or a lack of adjustment from the NFL if you want. Call their four consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1991-94 the same thing and you'll get laughed out of the conversation. The offenses of those Bills teams rank among the best in NFL history, and there's no doubt the K-Gun is the reason.
Buffalo's biggest issue as of now is a perceived lack of talent. They have the NFL's 25th-ranked passing offense, but do have the sixth-best rushing offense. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't anywhere remotely near Jim Kelly in skill and, aside from Steve Johnson, his targets leave a lot to be desired.
That being said, Fitzpatrick has always been labeled as one of the "smart" quarterbacks who can pick up an offense and absorb a lot of information. The K-Gun may not live up to its full potential under him, but it could certainly make him into a more productive, prolific passer.
Neither Hackett nor anybody on the Bills has publicly discussed the team's offense going forward, but if previous head coaching acquisitions have shown anything, it's likely they'll play the K-Gun angle to get the fans excited. However, in this case, there's plenty of substance to the fanfare.