Buffalo Bills Backfield Spilleth Over

The 2013 Buffalo Bills offense will see no shortage of C.J. Spiller. In an interview with The Howard Simon Show on WGR 550, Nathaniel Hackett stated that Spiller will carry the ball “until he throws up.”

(Photo by Jack Haley/Messenger Post)
(Photo by Jack Haley/Messenger Post)

Although Hackett’s philosophy in relation to Spiller is not rocket science, it allows Bills’ fans to take one, long exhale. Despite being one of the most elusive running backs in the NFL last season, Spiller fell victim to inconsistent playing time and questionable coaching decisions. With a new coaching staff in place, the aggressive, up-tempo offense of the Bills will favor Spiller’s services.

The largest question mark that lies ahead of Spiller, literally, is the productivity of the offensive line. Last season, Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards on 207 carries. In addition Spiller averaged 12.9 carries and 2.7 receptions per game. Expect those totals to significantly increase if the offensive line can pave the way for him.

By no means can the Bills offensive line afford to be porous, however the anticipated up-tempo offense could camouflage a weakened offensive line. One of the luxuries that Hackett will have at his disposal is the versatility of Spiller.  With the implementation of the spread offense and unpredictable play calling, Spiller will have the opportunity to do what play makers do- score.

Just when opposing defenses think that they have cracked the code on Spiller, Fred Jackson is next in line to deliver the second wave of the running game. The combination of Jackson and Spiller creates arguably the best tandem on the Bills offense.

Even though the objective of any offense is to have as many playmakers on the field simultaneously, the coaching staff will most likely diffuse the running back by committee dilemma that plagued the Bills last season. Despite being 32 years old, Jackson has only endured seven NFL seasons and the fourth leading rusher in Bills’ history is an integral element to the offense. With Spiller’s ability to outrun entire defensive units and Jackson’s preference to establish himself as a physical runner, the Bills hold a dynamic duo at the running back position.

One of the largest beneficiaries of being in the same huddle with Spiller and Jackson will be whoever the Bills’ signal caller is this season. Whether the coaching staff selects Kevin Kolb or E.J. Manuel, either quarterback will greatly benefit from having playmakers in the running game.

With most anticipating Jackson to have more of a reserve role this season, the undrafted Coe College product is still expected to contribute at a consistent level. There is no question about it that Jackson is a vocal leader on the team. Jackson only needs 215 more yards to pass Joe Cribbs for the third most rushing yards in franchise history and barring an injury, it is feasible to assume Jackson will achieve that milestone in 2013.

With the Bills changing their offensive scheme to an aggressive tempo, Spiller is primed for a fruitful season. In his four years as the head coach at Syracuse, Doug Marrone had at least one running back on the Orange roster each season with more than 220 carries, not including catches. If Marrone and Hackett were to continue that trend, it would be a safe assumption that Spiller will obtain at least 220 carries this upcoming season and be the well deserved featured back in this offense. In the eight games that Spiller eclipsed his average of 13 carries per game last season, he managed to rack up 6.11 YPA.

With the expected increase in workload, it is difficult to imagine Spiller can duplicate his YPA results from last season but putting the football in his hands is the best thing for the offense. Increasing Spiller’s role within the offense and utilizing Jackson will make the Bills backfield a force to be reckoned with in 2013.