When the bills no-huddle offense starts making big plays, it's like a tidal wave. Buffalo can bury you. But if you stop the Bills before they get momentum, it almost becomes like a regular game. They play slower, they start thinking more, they give your defense time to get its senses back. Stop the big plays—the no-huddle scored only four TDs against us in our last three meetings with Buffalo—and you can stop the Bills. Here's how to do it:
1. STOP THURMAN THOMAS. The first thing Buffalo wants to do is run the ball, and if you let that happen, Thurman will steamroll you. The Bills usually run inside traps or off-tackle plays for him. We just bottle up the middle and don't give him his rushing lanes. If he bounces outside, which he likes to do, you've got to turn him in and not let him get around the corner. Here's why shutting down Thomas—we held him to less than three yards a earn' in those three games—is so important: If Jim Kelly has a second-and-long, he takes longer at the line of scrimmage because he's thinking. That means the defense can get a signal in from the sideline, and things aren't so helter-skelter. One more point: Be very physical with Thurman. In our AFC Championship Game with Buffalo, there was too much hitting out there for him. He kept going out.
2. DISGUISE THE DEFENSE. Confuse Kelly by always looking as if you're doing something different from what you are. He's not going to get rattled. He's cool. But you can slow him down. The only time the Bills hurry is when things are going great for them. If you disguise the defense and frustrate-them, you slow them down.
3. BUMP THE RECEIVERS. Andre Reed, James Lofton and Don Beebe are so fast. If you let them run straight ahead and get started, forget it. You'll never catch 'em. So jam 'em right at the line. It's do or die, because if you miss, they can really burn you. You've got to slow them down to give your front guys time to get to Kelly.
4. BLITZ, BLITZ, BLITZ. We watched film of the Bills-Raiders game of Dec. 8 to prepare for the AFC Championship Game. When they got a big lead, the Raiders dropped into a deep zone, and Kelly tore them up. We decided we would bring the house whenever Buffalo didn't have a back in the backfield—in other words, we rushed six guys every time they used five receivers—and it worked. They could only use five guys to block. That's why we had so much pressure on them.
Bottling up Thomas, particularly on first down, is crucial.
When the Bills use five receivers, a six-man rush can bother Kelly.