One of the seasons early surprises has been the Buffalo Bills. I had high hopes and expectations for the Bills season but could never have seen a 4-0 start coming. Behind their second year QB Trent Edwards the Bills have been impressive the first four weeks of the season.
Some of the big contributors to the Bills' success aren't necessarily household names yet. Yes, everyone could most likely tell you who the Bills QB, RB and 1st WR are but some players whose names may not be nationally recognized have had a huge impact on the Bills season thus far.
One of these players is RB Fred Jackson. Before last season almost no one outside of Coe College could have told you much about Fred Jackson. He spent the 2006 season on the Bills practice squad and was waiting for a chance to prove that he could play with big guys after coming from a small school. In the middle of last season the Bills were bit by the injury bug in their back field. The Bills impressive rookie Marshawn Lynch suffered a high ankle sprain in week 10 and the veteran Anthony Thomas took over in Lynch's absence and the Bills also started mixing in Jackson as well (who I immediately started calling Fast Freddy due to his quickness coming out of the backfield). After Thomas went down with an injury Jackson started seeing the majority of the workload. Breaking onto the NFL scene with an impressive game vs. the Redskins and then following that performance with his first 100 yard rushing game vs. the Dolphins, Freddy looked as if he could contribute greatly to the Bills running attack. His contributions have carried over to this season as he is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and 8.5 yards a reception.
With the emergence of Jackson in the backfield, a legitimate question can be posed. Should Coach Dick Jauron begin taking carries away from Marshawn Lynch in favor of Fred Jackson?
In a word...No. At least, not very much. Lynch has been a beast his first season and a quarter in the NFL. He has the ability to be a top 5 back in this league. Marshawn averaged about 22 carries a game last season and rushed for 1,115 yards in his rookie season. He is only averaging 3.5 yards a carry thus far this season but he does have a nose for the end zone with 4 rushing TDs in 4 games. Look for him to have another great season. Now, what should be done with the obvious talent that Fred Jackson possesses? I believe taking a few carries away from Lynch would be a good idea considering the big play capability Jackson has. The Bills have already began doing this as Lynch is averaging 2 less carries a game compared to last season. Jackson is averaging about 7 carries a game this season, which is about what he averaged when he began to see action last year. I think getting him to around the 10 carry per game area would be great for the Bills. If the Bills keep giving Lynch his 20-25 carries a game, the Bills should have one of the best 1-2 punches in the game.
Now, Jackson in the receiving game is a different story. The Bills had the right idea in week 2 when they threw the ball his way 7 times for 83 yards. I really believe that Jackson is one of the most dangerous RBs in the game when he catches that 3 yard little dump off pass and has somewhat of an open field to work with. His speed and elusiveness are fantastic and he has the ability to make defenders miss (see his juke on his TD run vs. St Louis last week).
If the Bills give Jackson a few more touches a game in both the run game and the receiving game the Bills should have one of the best 1-2 punches in the game. The two headed monster that Lynch and Jackson can create could be very dangerous. If both are used effectively this situation could begin to look strangely similar to the Thurman Thomas/Kenneth Davis days in Buffalo during their Super Bowl years.