Comparing CJ Spiller to LeSean McCoy and How the Bills Can Learn from the Eagles

Chris TrapassoAnalyst ISeptember 20, 2012

Sep 9, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs behind center Jason Kelce (62) in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Last year, LeSean McCoy established himself as one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL. Now, it's C.J. Spiller who's exploding. 

Both guys are young, possesses a tremendous initial burst, have elite straight-line speed and are exceptionally volatile in the open field. 

McCoy and Spiller weigh under 210 pounds, but have fit exquisitely into their offenses and have been creatively utilized by their respective coaches in ways that play to each runner's strengths. 

Spiller's Buffalo Bills take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, and McCoy's Philadelphia Eagles squeaked past Brandon Weeden and Co. in Week 1. 

Legions of fans and media believed Andy Reid should have featured McCoy more prominently in the season opener, but McCoy did finish the day with 136 total yards on 26 total touches.

Let's examine how the Bills can learn from McCoy's solid performance as Chan Gailey's run-heavy spread offense game plans for Pat Shurmur's squadron.  

After re-watching the Eagles battle with the Browns and comparing it to what the Bills do on offense, one thing's clear: Philadelphia calls many more runs from a traditional I-formation than Buffalo. 

All of Spiller's 29 runs haven't come out of the shotgun, but Gailey seems to prefer to give Spiller most of his touches from the collegiate-like spread shotgun formation. 

In the first quarter against Cleveland, the Eagles ran an off-tackle sweep designed for McCoy from the shotgun formation with the receivers stacked on either side of the formation.

On that run in the opening stanza of the Philly-Cleveland game, Browns defensive tackle Billy Winn actually beat the Eagles center at the point of attack, which forced McCoy to abandon running through the gap made by the left guard and left tackle and bounce the football outside. 

Due to his amazing lateral agility (to me, the best in the NFL) and sheer speed, McCoy was able to successful turn the corner and pick up nine yards before running out of bounds. 

Although the Bills have shown little to none of the "stacked" look thus far in the 2012 season, the off-tackle run from the shotgun formation is far from foreign. In fact, Spiller's first touchdown run against the Chiefs was almost the exact same play as the one called for McCoy against the Browns. 

Buffalo's coaching staff doesn't necessarily want Spiller to instantly bounce his runs to the perimeter when a defensive linemen wins a one-on-one battle and occupies the desired running lane, but the fact that the former first-round pick has similar athletic attributes to McCoy can help on a semi-busted play. 

The next major chunk of yardage picked up by McCoy came from a formation and on a play common in Buffalo's spread running attack—a "sprint draw."

Upon receiving the delayed handoff, McCoy followed his pulling center who appeared to be in search of the first unblocked defender to show at the second level. In this case, it was middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

The rest of the offensive linemen must win one-on-one battles with the Browns defense linemen, and on this play, they do. 

With the wideouts engaged in down field blocks, there's a clear hole for McCoy to run through, and he does the rest, making the safety miss en route to a big 22-yard gain. 

So, really, the Bills shouldn't have to stray from a few of their staple runs when facing this underrated Browns defense. 

Expect Shurmur's group to make some adjustments and learn from their mistakes against McCoy in Week 1. But with similar running ability, Buffalo can use Spiller in many of the same aways against the Browns which could lead to another huge day for the league's leading rusher.