When Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett proclaimed in training camp that the Bills would be giving CJ Spiller the ball until he “threw up” many fans thought it was a sign that Spiller would be given the opportunity to shine and see the offense take off to new heights. Instead, Spiller and his fellow running backs have been playing at an under whelming level despite its talent.
There are a number of factors that play into why the production is not where it’s expected, but the key missing ingredient is the big play. Namely, runs that go for 10 yards or more.
In fact, the Bills have only had two individual 100 yard rushing games this season and both were from Spiller against the Cleveland Browns and then again against the Kansas City Chiefs. In total the Bills only have 34 runs of 10 yards or longer; otherwise it’s 4.1 yards and a cloud of dust for these roaming Buffaloes.
But when the Bills do run, they enjoy getting behind center Eric Wood. When rushing in the middle the Bills are averaging 4.9 yards per carry and have attempted the most rushes within that center area.
After the middle, the left side of the line has been the second favorite rushing lane. So far they have complied 107 attempts for 440 yards for 4.1 yards per carry. The average attempt is good, however the backs have also accumulated the most negative yardage plays from that side.
Though left tackle Cordy Glenn has done well in sealing his block, the play at left guard in combination with the propensity of both running backs, namely Spiller, to bounce the run outside too early has leveled his effectiveness.
From the rotation of left guards and their poor play, to the opponent’s pressure into the left guard, the backs have often been forced outside and from there opposing defenses have done a good job of containing Spiller or Jackson once they get there.
These reasons are part of the major issues the Bills have been inclined to run behind Wood and guard Kraig Urbik. Both players can be counted to hold the point of attack and provide enough space for positive yardage for the backs.
If there is a bright spot on the horizon for Spiller and Jackson, it’s that four of their next five opponents yield bottom seven run defenses. They start this week against 28th ranked Atlanta and continue with New England (31st), Jacksonville (29th) and Miami (26th). So hopefully by facing those weaker defenses, the run game can finally get back on track to close out the season on a high note.