After C.J. Spiller's breakout preseason, most were not surprised to see him listed as the starting back for the Bills to start the season. However, when head coach Chan Gailey wanted to re-establish the running game against the Green Bay Packers, he called on former first-rounder, and four-year veteran Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had 64 yards on 17 carries, while Fred Jackson added 39 yards on nine carries and scored the lone touchdown. Spiller only had one carry for three yards.
The team felt a need to simplify the offense and put the ball in their three talented running backs hands. Leading up to the Green Bay game Gailey stressed the importance of playing more fundamentally sound football, and it was clear that getting one particular back in a rhythm was a focus for the offense.
"We wanted to get Marshawn and Fred a lot more involved" Gailey said. "We didn't put C.J. in there as much. We were going to use him (Spiller) on third down and work him in slowly as time goes on. We just felt that was the best way to attack them."
Even though he didn't get the majority of the carries, Fred Jackson understood why Lynch was used more.
"I think they wanted to try to get Marshawn involved as much as possible and ride him a little bit" he said. "We knew going in they wanted to try and get one of us established early and that was the case. I think he did well when he was in there so there was no reason to put me in, so it was by design."
Lynch started off the game well, running for 52 yards in the first half, something he hasn't done since September 13, 2009 at Kansas City when he had 53 yards.
As for C.J. Spiller, he respected what the coaches wanted him to do and is willing to do whatever the coaches ask.
"I just do what the coaches tell me to do. I knew special teams were going to be big for me. I just tried to give our offense good field position" said Spiller.
The rookie did have success returning the ball on kicks, gaining 174 yards on six returns, an impressive 29 yard average. When asked how his fellow running backs fared he responded positively.
"Marshawn and Fred did a great job running the ball," Spiller said. "I thought the running game was a whole lot better this week. We wanted to improve on it and correct mistakes."
In total, the Bills rushed for 124 yards on 32 carries for an average of 3.9 yards, which was respectable improvement. Unfortunately the Bills passing game did not follow suit. Trent Edwards struggled connecting with his receivers just 11 times for 102 yards as he was under pressure most of the game.
Moving forward it will be interesting to see how the workload for Buffalo's three backs unfolds. Next Sunday the Bills face another tough opponent on the road in the New England Patriots. With the Patriots possessing a quick strike offense a ball control rushing attack figures to be the logical approach again.