It's not the way Bills fans wanted to see C.J. Spiller get more of the workload in Buffalo's ground game, but with Fred Jackson!(/team/roster/fred-jackson/9197889b-672f-42fb-ba04-3b75b8afb81a/ "Fred Jackson") out for the rest of the season with a grade two sprain of the MCL in his right knee, Spiller is going to be busy over the Bills final three regular season games.
"We're going to get the opportunity here in the next few weeks for him to get it a lot and we won't have what I term two great backs," said head coach Chan Gailey knowing Jackson is lost for the rest of the season. "I think Tashard (Choice) is a very good back, but to me he's not in Fred's category. So there won't be a lot of sharing of duties. C.J. will have to take a big part of the load now."
That's fine by Spiller coming off a game in which he had eight opportunities with the football in Sunday's loss to St. Louis.
"(I'm) just eager to try to see what I can do to try to help us win because mathematically we think there's still a chance that an 8-8 team can get to the playoffs and we want to be that 8-8 team," said Spiller. "There are three games left and it's pretty much backs against the wall and we pretty much need to see if we can step up and make the plays."
More often than not Spiller has delivered this season. When Spiller has been the main ball carrier he has produced. After Fred Jackson went down early in the first half of the season opener, Spiller stepped in and put up 169 rushing yards on 14 carries including a 56-yard touchdown.
The following week he rolled up 123 yards on 15 carries with a pair of touchdowns in a win over Kansas City. Against Cleveland he had seven touches for 77 yards and a touchdown before leaving in the first half with a shoulder injury.
His only other opportunity to be the workhorse back was against Miami in Week 11 on Thursday night. With Jackson sidelined by a concussion, Spiller had 170 total yards from scrimmage in the win over the Dolphins.
Those outside the walls of One Bills Drive have campaigned for more opportunities for Spiller when both he and Jackson have been healthy, but Spiller doesn't believe lobbying for more carries helps anybody.
"I can only carry the ball when my number is called," said Spiller. "My style is I'll never go up there and beg, beg, beg for the ball. I understand we've got a lot of playmakers out there. Everybody wants to have the ball in their hands and everybody wants to make that play. I'm no different, but I'm not going to sit around and mope week in and week out. If I do that then it's a disadvantage to my teammates because I'm not able to go out there and focus on my job."
With Jackson injured however, it's a moot issue as it will be Spiller who must find the creases against the formidable Seattle run defense on Sunday. The Seahawks rank 10th in the league in run defense.
Gailey believes some defenses play Buffalo's offense differently when Spiller is in the backfield and load up the box with more run defenders. The Bills tried to combat that Sunday with their two tight end, two back set.
"That was part of the game plan going in, being able to ground and pound a little bit," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "It would allow us to get the ball to Fred and C.J., to get them some touches in the run game. We thought we could be physical with a couple of new guys in the lineup up front, just getting them comfortable. Unfortunately, we weren't as productive there as we thought we would be."
"That's why we got in two tight ends and two backs yesterday to just line up and run the football no matter what," said Gailey. "Sometimes you can get in some formations that say, 'Hey we don't care we're going to run the football.' And we do that from time to time. But we've been a more productive offense spreading people out and taking what they give us, than we have lining up and trying to play smash mouth for the entire ball game."
Spiller knows he's not the only playmaker on Buffalo's offense, but to this point he's been one of the most consistent. Realizing that opponents could very well key on him over the final three games he's confident his fellow playmakers will deliver.
"Our whole offensive staff tries to do a great job," he said. "These guys spend numerous hours up in the office trying to find ways to disguise me, move me around so defenses can't get a bead on where I'm at. But at the same time we can't just diminish our other playmakers like Scott Chandler, Stevie (Johnson), Donald Jones and T.J. Graham coming along."
But with Jackson out for the rest of the year Spiller is ready to step forward and perform, much like he did at the end of last season.
"It's time for every playmaker on this team to rise up including myself," he said. "I've definitely got to take it up another notch."