In a season where the Buffalo Bills' offensive production was often difficult to find, running back Fred Jackson many times proved to be the lone beacon of light. The third-year pro out of little-known Division III Coe College more than showed his worth as a versatile threat out of the backfield.
His solid contributions were recognized accordingly as Bills fans overwhelmingly voted him Buffalo's Offensive Most Valuable Player by better than a 3:1 margin.
Jackson led the Bills with 1,062 yards on 237 attempts (4.5 yards per carry). It was the first time the 28-year-old eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career.
He tied fellow tailback Marshawn Lynch for the Bills' lead in rushing TDs with two. And, perhaps comically, he even boasted the team's best passer rating (158.3) after completing his first and only pass of the season, a 27-yarder in the 41-17 Week 10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
"It was the type of season that can help build a career," Jackson told Buffalobills.com. "So I want to do that and hopefully come back and build on top of what I was able to do this year and do more things."
Jackson also tacked on significant yardage in a receiving role. He pulled in 46 receptions (second most on the team next to wideout Terrell Owens' 55 catches) for 371 yards, which was good for third on the squad. Twice he recorded receiving TDs, a stat of particular distinction considering T.O. and WR Lee Evans scored five and seven touchdowns, respectively.
While his play wasn't enough to pull the Bills out of their 10-year playoff drought, Jackson did lead the team in total offense with 1,433 yards. His rushing total (1,062) made him the 15th running back in the NFL to tally 1,000 yards or more in 2009. Though he was individually recognized for his accomplishment the running back made sure to note that his teammates were equally responsible for his production.
"It feels good. But I think first and foremost I have to give props to all my teammates," Jackson said following his season-high 212-yard rushing performance in the season finale. "The offensive line did a great job blocking, and Lee and T.O. did a great job getting on the safeties so there was great blocking by the receivers. And (Ryan Fitzpatrick) even got downfield and got a block for me.
"You want to be able to make plays. We all want to go out and compete and do great things, but it's a team sport and without those guys I wouldn't be able to do it."