Run game to remain a mixed bag

Posted Sep 21, 2010

The Bills grabbed headlines with the change they made at quarterback on Monday. One position where change is expected to continue will be right behind Ryan Fitzpatrick at running back. In two games played head coach Chan Gailey has started two different backs in C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch, and the player filling that starting role at tailback will be determined on a week to week basis.

Gailey historically has leaned heavily on one back to carry the load. In his nine previous NFL seasons as a coordinator or head coach Gailey has given his lead back better than 70 percent of the carries. In Buffalo however, there is no one back that is the far and away premier talent.

“If there’s a definite pecking order then you stay with that pecking order,” Gailey said. “But when you have three quality backs then you try to keep a fresh guy on the field at all times.”

The Bills head coach did acknowledge going into the season that in his entire coaching career he’s never been blessed with a trio of backs this talented across the board. He admits he’s still trying to determine how each of them can best serve the offense, but he fully intends to make use of all of them through the course of the 2010 campaign.

What Gailey has decided will largely determine which back starts each week will be the game plan for the opponent they’ll face every Sunday.

“It depends on the package,” said Gailey. “It all depends on the packages that we deal with. We’re all trying to develop packages for each guy or guys, and it depends on which packages we go with.”

Last week the offensive staff chose to go with Marshawn Lynch and he had 17 carries in the loss to Green Bay. Fred Jackson had nine carries and a touchdown, while C.J. Spiller did not see a carry on offense until there were two minutes left in the game, though he did have a pair of first half receptions along with a couple of more in the second half.

Gailey insisted that plans will be made to get Spiller more involved offensively in the weeks to come.

“Yeah we’d like to get him the ball as much as possible and there may be some different packages for him as time goes on,” he said.

Of course those packages may not involve Spiller as a ball carrier out of the backfield. He could be split out as a receiving option or take on a third down role so he can be a safety valve in passing situations.

In an ideal world Jackson, Lynch and Spiller will all get their touches, but the offense has to sustain drives more consistently to give all of them enough opportunities to make a difference for Buffalo’s attack. And that production falls on the shoulders of those three backs along with the rest of the offensive unit.

What’s ironic is the trio of Bills backs has altered Gailey’s approach from riding a bell cow to rotating his top tier talents through the course of a game.  

“We’re just trying to keep somebody fresh in there at all times,” Gailey said.



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