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Fast-Paced Offense A Glimpse Of What Redskins Will See

The Bills’ most efficient use of their hurry-up offense came early in the first quarter of Saturday’s preseason game, though the Redskins’ defense was able to adequately meet that challenge.

BY ZAC BOYER

LANDOVER, Md. – The Bills’ hurry-up offense didn’t provide the Redskins’ defense a fair measurement of what it might face later this season.

What it did, though, is give the Redskins a glimpse of what they need to do to counter such an offense – and the first-team defense handled the challenge fairly well on Saturday.

“It’s tough,” cornerback Josh Wilson said after the game, a 30-7 victory for the Redskins. “It’s hard to simulate that in practice, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to go through that in a game.”

Buffalo’s starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb, played just 14 snaps before showing symptoms of a concussion and leaving the game, and the Bills put together only one prolonged drive over the first nine minutes. That drive lasted 10 plays and spanned 66 yards, ending when running back C.J. Spiller ran two yards for a touchdown.

After rookie cornerback David Amerson was penalized for grabbing receiver Robert Woods’ facemask on the third play, the Bills ran off their next seven plays in rapid succession. They took an average of only 21 seconds between the time the previous play was whistled dead and the ball was snapped to start the next play.

Compare that to the Redskins, who, on their 10-play, 86-yard touchdown drive a series before, needed an average of 32 seconds to reset the offense from whistle to snap.

That 10-second difference could lead to roughly an extra play a minute for the Bills, who ran only 49 plays with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel quarterbacking the offense but ran 85 and 78 plays in their first two preseason games. They ran an average of 61 plays a game last season under Chan Gailey, who was fired during the offseason and replaced with Doug Marrone.

Formerly the head coach at Syracuse, Marrone wants to have his team snap the ball with more than 24 seconds remaining on the play clock. It’s a similar approach to what Chip Kelly is implementing with the Eagles, who the Redskins play in the season opener on Sept. 9. The Eagles ran 91 plays against the Patriots in the preseason opener and averaged 18 seconds between snaps against the Panthers in the second game.

The Redskins never struggled with their substitutions on Saturday or showed any difficulty adjusting to what the Bills wanted to do. Perhaps that’s because Buffalo’s offense wasn’t working efficiently, or because the hurry-up slowed down significantly with Tuel at quarterback and with the game dragging on.

Of course, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett knows there’s an easy solution to preventing the Bills, Eagles or anyone else who wants to emulate a fast-paced offense from running a defense off the field.

“The best thing to do is get three-and-out,” he said late in training camp, “and then you won’t have to worry about those types of things.”

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