How the Buffalo Bills Can Ride C.J. Spiller to Win over Jacksonville Jaguars

Erik FrenzSenior Writer INovember 30, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 25:  C.J. Spiller #28 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense is all kinds of bad.

But there's really only one kind of "bad" the Buffalo Bills should be concerned with headed into their Week 13 showdown.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't deliver against the Indianapolis Colts (96.6 defensive passer rating, 28th in the NFL), so why should he be trusted to get it done against the Jaguars (89.6 DPR, 19th)? 

The easy answer: He shouldn't. That's why Buffalo has running back C.J. Spiller, who should be the focal point of the offensive game plan.

The problem is, he should be the focal point of nearly every game plan, but that doesn't mean that he is. And even when he is, that doesn't mean he's being utilized in the right ways or at the right times.

There aren't many "wrong ways" to utilize the running game against Jacksonville's run defense, which ranks 29th in total run defense and 27th in Football Outsiders' DVOA.

Not only that, but this comes from AccuScore, via Tim Graham of The Buffalo News:

When C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson rushed for more yards than the Jaguars, the Bills won a whopping 84 percent of the time. When the Jaguars won the ground game without [running back Maurice Jones-Drew], they won 55 percent of the sims.

Games are played on Sunday for a reason, but it's not a stretch to imagine that the Bills have a much better chance of winning when they run the ball more. According to, the Bills' win probability added on running plays is 0.33 and ranks ninth, while their WPA on pass plays is 0.08 and ranks 23rd.

One way the Bills like to attack opponents in the ground game is with shotgun handoffs. These are misdirection plays that get the defense thinking pass and then hitting it with a run when it may not expect it.

Here, we see the Detroit Lions execute this concept beautifully on 2nd-and-10. That's a great time to call this play, because while the defense could be expecting pass due to the long yardage to go, a running play can still set up a manageable third down, even when it's not 100 percent effective.

The Lions used this play to pick up 14 yards, so it's safe to say it was pretty close to, if not 100 percent effective.

Left guard Rob Sims (orange) was the lead blocker on the play, and he pulled across the formation quickly while sealing the edge against the linebacker. A good block from Lions receiver Calvin Johnson (red) opened up a gaping hole on the strong side, allowing Lions running back Mikel LeShoure to pick up a long gain of 14 yards, only stopped by safety Chris Prosinski.

LeShoure is not known as a big-play back—certainly nothing like Spiller, who boasts a whopping 6.7 YPA, the league's highest through Week 12. That high average is due in part to plays that look a lot like the one the Lions ran against the Jaguars.

Take this play against the Dolphins, for example. 

The Bills lined up with three wide receivers and a tight end in the shotgun. The Dolphins have seven defenders in the box, all very close to the line of scrimmage, showing blitz.

Draw plays and shotgun handoffs are perfect to take advantage of such a look, because it catches the defense being overly aggressive. 

Spiller put his moves to work to make the first defender miss, and then he did the same to the next defender.

His elite quickness helped him pick up 20 yards on the play.

That's no small feat against a Dolphins defense that holds opponents to 3.7 YPA rushing—the fifth-best average in the league.

The fact that he did it all without a lead blocker, a benefit which LeShoure had on his long gain, tells you all you need to know about Spiller's ability to make defenders miss.

The Bills would be foolish not to see what he can do against a Jaguars defense that has had problems in run defense this season.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.