Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Fred Jackson has been so effective these past two years -- some would say “so surprising,” although Jackson wouldn’t use that verbiage -- that it’s made C.J. Spiller, the Bills first-round pick last year, and free agent pickup Brad Smith all but irrelevant in Buffalo’s offense this season.
Which, quite frankly, has surprised those in the Buffalo front office, especially considering Spiller was supposed to do great things after leaving Clemson.
"I don't think anybody foresaw how good Fred Jackson was going to be," Bills coach Chan Gailey, said via the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "When we drafted (Spiller), we thought there would eventually be a need there that has not shown itself to be. It's not his fault. Fred Jackson's playing extremely well right now. How do you take him out of the ball game? Receiver is not (Spiller’s) natural position, so we'll just have to see how it works as time goes on. It may be one of those things where this year he doesn't get as involved as we all would maybe have thought he might. That's the way it is."
Since Jackson has been so good for Buffalo’s offense -- he’s averaged 5.6 yards per carry (a league-leading 913 yards overall on the season), he’s scored six touchdowns and he’s made 34 catches -- the coaching staff moved Spiller to receiver earlier in the season. But he’s only got 13 catches and 18 rushes this year, and for now, he’s biding his time.
"I'm playing behind a great player in front of me, and I'm trying to soak up as much as I can from him," Spiller said. "Sooner or later my opportunity is going to come and I'll be ready. I'm not discouraged and I'm not going to stop working. I'm going to continue to be prepared and be ready to go."
The problem with Smith is that he’s been used mostly in the Wildcat offense the Bills occasionally use, and lately, that scheme has become almost non-existent for Buffalo. Smith also was hurt by the lockout, meaning he had no offseason with his new team and, therefore, couldn’t learn the offensive intricacies, and by the new kickoff rules which have limited his abilities as a returner.
"I didn't come with any preconceived thoughts," Smith said. "I was hoping to (play more), but it hasn't necessarily been that way. As a competitor and a player I want to be out there. I'll keep working, stay focused and be ready to help the team at any time."
For now, though, it looks like Jackson isn’t ready to give away any of his playing time.
“We did draft C.J. last year. I knew I had to keep working and keep working, even at the beginning of (last) year when I had my hand broken,” Spiller said in a September edition of Five Questions (or more). “I had to keep plugging away at it. I was accustomed to working and seeing how things work out afterward. But C.J. still wants to play, and he still wants to start. That’s what we’re here for. I expect nothing less of him.”
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.