The Buffalo Bills, as well as the rest of the NFL, realize the weapon they possess in running back C.J. Spiller.
He’s done some incredible, dynamic things over the last few seasons that have led many to believe that this would be his big coming out party. This season would be the year he would explode into NFL superstardom and take over the undisputed No. 1 running back role in Buffalo.
Yet here we are, heading into Week 13, and Spiller can be filed under the “disappointment” column. Sure, part of that is his fault and part of that is due to various injuries he’s dealt with this season, including an ankle injury that forced him to miss a game.
That ankle injury limited his effectiveness for awhile, but he’s been off the injury list for the last two weeks while seeing disappointing results. He’s not getting to the edge and looks hesitant when asked to run between the tackles.
But there is also a huge question directed towards the Bills coaching staff and head coach Doug Marrone in particular: Will Spiller’s role ever increase or is this what we can expect out of the former Clemson product?
Something to chew on: Spiller saw 59 percent of offensive plays in Weeks 1 and 2. In his last two? He saw 33 percent vs. Pittsburgh and 40 percent against the Jets. The Bills have seemingly moved towards a deep passing game led by rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Part of this his issue is that he’s not the complete back that Fred Jackson is. While Spiller is the bigger home run threat of the two, Jackson is less likely to lose yardage the way Spiller does. Not only that, but Jackson is superior on passing downs. He can stay in to pick up blitzes and is a consistently reliable receiver out of the backfield. Spiller, meanwhile, is having his worst season statistically as a receiver.
The former first round pick has looked more and more like a change-of-pace back in the last few weeks, and it’s seemingly where he’ll stay for the time being — especially if the Bills continue to find success through the air.
Whatever happens, Spiller and the Buffalo faithful are likely in agreement that he’s been underused and hope that will change. If not this season, definitely next when the Bills look more like a team that could contend for the playoffs.