The Bills have been long noted for their inconsistencies and struggles on both sides of the ball. But their brighter spots lie on offense, where they have arguably the best running back tandem in both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. Both have proved themselves dynamic playmakers when given the opportunity in a featured role.
But, getting them their touches to succeed when both backs are healthy is another thing entirely. It cuts both of their production ability in half, and both need to be on the field as much as possible to achieve maximum success. But, for Buffalo, the question now becomes, which back should be the featured back in this offense. Let's take a look at both running backs in a nutshell.
First, we have Fred Jackson. Undrafted out of Coe College, Jackson played in the indoor league for the Sioux City Bandits for two seasons before joining the Bills in 2006. He would then see time in a bacup role behind Marshawn Lynch for several seasons, and his potential was seen when Lynch went down with injuries. The result of his potential in both the running game, in addition to his great pass catching ability, prompted the Bills to promote him to the starting role, despite drafting CJ Spiller ninth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Jackson, however, has seen the bulk of the work. At age 31, he is still productive, but has had trouble staying healthy the past two seasons, which has allowed the Bills' 2010 first round pick to shine.
Next, we have CJ Spiller. The former first-rounder out of Clemson University has only been seen in flashes, and perhaps less than Bills fans would like to see after the production he put up in Jackson's absence. His speed and catching ability out of the backfield make him a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He is one of the fastest players on this Bills roster, and give his young age, 25, he is still in the prime of his career as a running back.
The Bills, on paper and the field, would be wise to give Spiller the nod over Jackson. Despite Jackson's continued productivity, he is getting a little injury-prone, after missing extended time last season and several weeks at the beginning of the season. At 31, the Bills need to reduce Jackson's role and give their first round pick the role he was destined to use.
Spiller, at age 25, is still in the prime of his career. He is still healthy, and shows burst and better ability to move in the open field than Jackson. He has proven he can handle the workload of a back. Jackson would best be suited for a backup, third down role, as he still has enough left in the tank to pose threats as a pass catcher and spell Spiller throughout the course of a game.
Chan Gailey, the future of your Bills offense will take positive steps forward if you hand the reins to Spiller now. Jackson has had his run, but you're wasting the talents of your first round pick. And do trust, if Spiller is allowed to test that market, he will draw plenty of interest and offers. Most NFL teams would love to have a back like him.