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Why Buffalo Bills Must Give C.J. Spiller the Ball vs. New York Jets

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Why Buffalo Bills Must Give C.J. Spiller the Ball vs. New York Jets
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Ask any fan of the Buffalo Bills what they might change about the team, and while you'll get any number of answers, almost all of them will include one thing: giving running back C.J. Spiller the ball a bit more than he got it this season.

Spiller is like a volcano; he can go dormant for a bit, but given enough opportunities, he's bound to explode.

Spiller's 6.5 yards per rush attempt leads all NFL running backs, and his 9.4 yards per reception ranks third among running backs (only Raiders running back Marcel Reece and Patriots running back Danny Woodhead have a higher average yards per reception).

Despite that, Spiller has earned more than 20 carries just twice this year, with the second of those occasions coming this past week against the Miami Dolphins. While it proved that Spiller's carries are not the only thing standing between the Bills and league-wide dominance, he proved what kind of damage he can do to the Jets in their previous meeting.

In that game, Spiller had runs of 56 and 49 yards. Granted, the game was well out of hand when those carries happened, but it's not as if the Jets weren't trying to tackle him. 

On the 56-yard carry, for example, the Bills lined up in the pistol formation which has the quarterback lined up three yards behind the center, with the running back another three yards behind. The Jets came out in the nickel package and were prepared to defend the pass.

It was pretty much over once he broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage; the linebackers were out of position to catch up with him, and all he had to do was make safety Yeremiah Bell miss at the last line of defense.

He put his signature elusiveness on display to break past Bell, and then raced for the touchdown.

Spiller's 6.5 yards per rush attempt leads all NFL running backs, and his 9.4 yards per reception ranks third among running backs (only Raiders running back Marcel Reece and Patriots running back Danny Woodhead have a higher average yards per reception).

He is by far the Bills most explosive threat on offense, and has proven it all season long. The Jets may choose to respond with younger, faster linebackers in this contest. Look for more action for rookie linebacker Demario Davis, who has only played 30.8 percent of the snaps this year. Older, slower linebackers like David Harris and Bart Scott simply are no match for an elusive back like Spiller.

We've seen that time and time again this year.

We have even seen it as recently as two weeks ago, when Titans running back Chris Johnson raced 94 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

Unlike Spiller's run, there was no deception in the form of a formation. The Titans lined up in an offset "I" formation, with a tight end and fullback Quinn Johnson lined up in front of Chris Johnson. Everyone in the stadium knew a run was coming; just look at the Jets, who have six defenders at the line of scrimmage, eight defenders in the box and just three defenders committed to defending the pass.

CJ2K...almost always a blur.

Just like Spiller's run, however, it was all but over as soon as Johnson broke through the line of scrimmage. That had part to do with the Jets pre-snap alignment, which all but sold them out to the run. 

It also had part to do with a poor angle taken by Jets safety LaRon Landry, who horribly misjudged the speed of Johnson and was caught in trail position from the beginning.

The Jets' overall lack of team speed has doomed them against elusive backs like Spiller all year, and if the Bills are smart, they'll try to maximize that weakness in the final game of the 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 or via team press releases.

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