Buffalo Bills' Running Backs: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Bills have a "three-headed-monster" in their backfield, veterans Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, along with rookie first-round draft pick C.J. Spiller. Head Coach Chan Gailey has already named Spiller the week one starter. Both Jackson and Lynch are both coming off preseason injuries, with Jackson missing the final three preseason games.
Here's a breakdown of what each running back has to offer.
Al Bello/Getty Images
There’s no question Marshawn has proven to be a valuable asset when he’s been on the field. In each of his first two seasons in a Bills uniform, number 23 rushed for at least 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. This was all with the Swiss cheese offensive we have come to know and not love.
After serving his three game suspension at the start of the season, Marshawn returned as a shadow of his former self, putting up only 450 yards and 2 touchdowns in 13 games. In his defense, he had less than half of the amount of carries than each of the first two seasons.
There have been rumors, especially after drafting CJ Spiller, of the Bills possibly dealing Lynch (which would be a terrible mistake) but he has been professional and focused.
Bills fans know Marshawn is a beast. He’s one of the hardest backs in the league to tackle, rarely going down after the first hit. This year, he won’t be splitting the carries with just one guy. It’s safe to assume Gailey will try to utilize Spiller here and there. It will be interesting to see how he handles the increased competition.
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Fred Jackson was thrown into the starting lineup at the beginning of last season due to Marshawn Lynch’s suspension. He didn’t disappoint. In Lynch’s absence, he rushed for 291 yards, including 163 in the home opener against Tampa Bay. Freddy’s good start allowed him to be the feature back, finishing the season with 1,062 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground and 371 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air.
As mentioned with Marshawn, the Bills’ backfield got a bit more crowed with the first round draft pick CJ Spiller. Coaches and fans are going to want to see what Spiller can do, which will likely take the ball out of the hands of Jackson and Lynch.
Jackson was the first of the trio to catch the injury bug that goes around the Bills locker room so swiftly. In the Bills’ first preseason game against the Redskins, Jackson injured his hand. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of the preseason and allowed Spiller a chance to impress his observers.
Freddy is a good all-around back. He has given Bills fans no reason to doubt his abilities. However, he lacks that “x” factor. Lynch has the power to run over a linebacker and Spiller has the speed to outrun almost any defensive back. Jackson hasn’t shown anything of the sort. If Lynch stays focused and Spiller continues to show flashes of excitement, Freddy may end up being the one left in the dark.
In the Bills’ first preseason game, both Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch left in the first half with injuries. He was solid in the first game, but it wasn’t until the second game against Indianapolis when we saw what the excitement was all about. In that game, he ran for 54 yards on 10 carries, and then followed up with 52 yards on 12 carries the next week against Cincinnati. Coach Gailey’s decision to sit Spiller in the preseason finale can only mean he wants to preserve the back, especially seeing how the other two have already been dinged up.
He’s a rookie and he has fans’ hopes up. When will we learn? Hopes only go so far until there are proven results. Spiller is by no means a bust, but let’s wait until he shows up something until we ship off what we already have.
CJ has gotten high praises from national media outlets and shows no reason to disappoint. There really is no “ugly” at this point. Let’s hope it stays that way.
That whole three-headed monster-back that the Bills have going works in Spiller’s favor more than the other two. He has the most to gain and is the most versatile.