Bills vs. Dolphins: C.J. Spiller Can't Carry Buffalo by Himself

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IDecember 23, 2012

Dec 23, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (28) before a game against the Miami Dolphins before a game at Sun Life Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills finally found it in their hearts to give running back C.J. Spiller his share of the workload, and in the process, they found out that his limited touches were far from their only problem this year.

The other problems? Ball security, third-down defense, mental errors, a below-average quarterback, a well-below-average head coach and more.

Spiller's 11 first-half carries generated 100 yards, but 12 carries in the second half garnered just 38 yards. All in all, his 138 yards are misleading given that 62 of them came on one run, which helped set up the lone field goal of the day for the Bills in the second quarter.

Those were the only points the Bills would score until the fourth quarter, with the game well out of hand.

A number of miscues—three fumbles and 11 penalties—prevented the Bills from adding to that total. Both numbers were worse than their season averages—an average of two fumbles and 6.4 penalties per game.

Head coach Chan Gailey has the verbal support of his team, but actions speak louder than words. At times on Sunday, the lack of effort and intensity was overwhelming (or underwhelming, depending on your perspective), and coupled with the turnovers and penalties (both signs of a lack of discipline), it signals a head coach whose words are falling on deaf ears with his players.

If sloppy play and a lack of effort weren't enough, perhaps Gailey's status as an offensive guru should be called into question as well: In two games against Miami's sixth-ranked defense, the Bills offense mustered 29 points, with the lone touchdowns coming off a punt return for a touchdown and a garbage-time touchdown with nine minutes to go in Sunday's game.

Gailey's offense has been a letdown, but his game management has been even worse at times. Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 SportsRadio summed up well two sequences which defined Gailey's mismanagement of in-game situations:

The way the Bills approached their final offensive drive was the exact opposite of awe-inspiring. They called it a "no-huddle" mode, but how they can justify that as a no-huddle when they're blowing 25 seconds in between plays with under two minutes to go?

...The smaller example? The Bills complete a play at the end of the first half and there is thirty seconds on the clock. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks over at Chan Gailey waiting for instruction, Chan Gailey signals to spike the ball after a pair of seconds tick off, and as Fitzpatrick is running over to the line to spike it, Gailey ends up calling a time out. Five seconds that could have been crucial in a late-half situation were instead wasted. It's a smaller example of a bigger problem.

Spiller can't overcome bad coaching, let alone a below-average quarterback. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is now riding a five-game streak in which he has thrown at least one interception. He started 5-of-6 for 75 yards, making his final stat line (20-of-35, 240 yards, one touchdown, one interception) that much more harrowing.

The Bills are in need of an overhaul, and C.J. Spiller getting more touches is just one of the many changes in order. Perhaps the bigger changes can have a bigger impact than simply a bigger role for the team's biggest playmaker.


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 or via team press releases.