Buffalo Bills Positional Review: Running Backs

By Ryan Womeldorf
Robert Deutsch-USA Today Sports

It’s that time of the year if you’re a bad team, like the Buffalo Bills, that misses the playoffs by a mile. It’s end of season positional review time!

Over the coming days, yours truly is going to break down each position group by three factors: depth, reliability and performance. They’ll be graded on all three of these factors accordingly.

Today, we’ll be looking at one of the few bright spots on the offense: running backs.


Before the season started, the Bills featured one of the best running back duos in the league in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Despite a disappointing season from Spiller, little changed for the group.

Both battled injuries throughout the year – Spiller had ankle injuries for several weeks that clearly hampered him while Jackson battled various injuries but never missed more than a series or two. Tashard Choice was competent and an ultimately replaceable piece that was released.

Despite their issues, it’s harder to find a better duo in the NFL than Spiller and Jackson and they were there in some capacity all year long. Grade: A


Jackson was a rock yet again despite injuries. He was always there, ready to pick up a blitz, catch a pass out of the backfield or grind out the tough yardage. Consistency is the name of his game, and it’s hard to be more reliable than Jackson was this season.

Spiller, on the other hand, was not. When he wasn’t fighting through injuries, he was fighting expectations and losing the battle. There’s a reason he ended the season with fewer touches than Jackson, and you can’t blame it all on the injury. Spiller couldn’t be counted on in the passing game like Jackson could, and it hurt his overall performance this season. Grade: B


If you’re talking about Jackson, this was arguably his best season yet. He posted 896 yards rushing and a career-high 10 total touchdowns in what was a very up and down, inconsistent year for the team. He’s 32-years-old and should be on the downside of his career, yet he continues to perform consistently well.

Spiller, on the other hand, was a mess. One game he’d blow up, and then he would go missing for a few. He’s the biggest boom-or-bust back in the game right now, and while it’s clear he has the talent to be an elite back, it seems a myriad of other factors are keeping him off the field. He led the team in rushing, sure, but he failed to crack the 1,000-yard mark and had just two touchdowns.

It’s hard to really punish a unit that finished fourth in the NFL in yards per game, but you just felt like there could have been more. Grade: B+

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