Extra Point: Bills run out Jags during a blackout

Spiller vs Jags

The Bills confirmed much of what the fanbase already knew on Sunday, they’re better than the worst teams in the NFL. The team moved to 5-6, still well outside the playoff and top-five draft pick niche that the team has carved for most of the past 12 years.

What following the Bills has become is little more than a rotation of broken records. You can change the tune and rhythm, but it is always the same song over and over again.

Granted, there are plenty of things to like about this team, especially if both Jarius Byrd and Andy Levitre are given long-term contracts. However, the need for change is well overdue and one day maybe this fan base will see some real progress made. Continue reading

Extra Point: Groundhog Pick

Sunday must have felt like Groundhog Day for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Just as he did against Tennessee, Fitzpatrick played a sterling game only to unravel late in the fourth when the Bills were trying to lock up a victory.

Just like against the Titans, Fitzpatrick’s late miscue will receive just as much blame as the defense should for another 35+ point performance. That makes five games in which the defense has allowed 30 or more points. Shocking stat of the week: The Bills have lost all five games in which they surrender more than 30 points.

Danny Woodhead’s touchdown scamper was another astounding lack of run support from any of the 11 players on the field. But the rest of the performance wasn’t nearly as bad as the travesty that made up back-to-back losses to the Patriots and 49ers earlier in the year.

Buffalo outgained the mighty Patriots by nearly 140 yards. Yet they lost the game due in part to ugly penalty yardage and an early fumble that gave the Patriots a short field.

Chan Gailey still underutilized his most prolific weapon, CJ Spiller. But that won’t be the case on Thursday, as Fred Jackson will not be available for the Bills. Spiller finished with an average of 10 yards per play (9 carries, 70 yards and 6 catches, 61 yards). Once again, Spiller averaged a first down every time he touched the ball. Continue reading

Extra Point: Bills run away from winning combination

Before the final drive of the game for the Bills, CJ Spiller only had nine total touches. He picked up a pair of receptions on that drive to bring his overall number of touches to 11 on the day. Fred Jackson also had 11 touches. Of the 54 plays the Bills ran, Jackson or Spiller had the ball on 40 percent of them.

Nine of the 22 touches the backs had come in the passing game, leaving only 12 total rushes between the two. That is 22% of the offense that went through the running game (excluding runs by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brad Smith). Yes, less than a quarter of the offense went through a running attack ranked in the top five of the NFL.

That isn’t to say that CJ Spiller didn’t produce. Outside of getting stuffed on a few runs, he still averaged 6.5 yards per carry and has 102 all-purpose yards. That is a whopping 9.2 average per touch. So, while the rest of the offense sputtered, Spiller was capable of nearing first down yardage every time he touched the ball (on average). Continue reading

Extra Point: Playcalling bites Bills late

Poking the bear one too many times led to the Bills getting bit. The bear in this case was questionable play calling.

For the second-straight week, Chan Gailey was rolling the dice late in a game the Bills held a lead in. Unlike last week against Arizona, the opponent came away with a victory after the Bills failed to milk the clock and secure their lead.

This week wasn’t nearly as blasphemous as last week in Arizona, but it showed the same stubborn attitude that almost cost the game out west. Credit Gailey for this much, he didn’t try to have Brad Smith throw deep this time around. However, he still abandoned a running game that had dictated Buffalo’s success for the entire afternoon. Continue reading

Jackson earns his extension

A raise worth $3 million for Bills running back Fred Jackson was long overdue. Buffalo’s favorite underdog finally got his contract extension and will be with the team through 2014.

Jackson’s story is well documented. His journey to the top of the Bills depth chart was capped last season when he amassed enormous chunks of yardage before a broken leg sidelined him late in the year. His low salary put Jackson on the potential line of backs to be ushered out of Buffalo by young talent. In fact, Jackson’s emergence was a big part of Marshawn Lynch’s trade.

However, Jackson’s value to the Bills offense far exceeds what Lynch ever did for the team and management recognized that. Maybe he should have gotten his dough during the season, but the Bills made sure not to mistreat him for too long. The contract raises his salary to $4.5M per year and locks up the team’s three best weapons (Jackson, Stevie Johnson and FitzMagic) long-term.

I do expect Jackson’s touches to go down some next season as C.J. Spiller has also earned the right to see some actual playing time. While Spiller’s strong finish may take carries away from Jackson, it gives the Bills the opportunity to build a proper thunder and lightning duo with their backs. Spiller’s waterbug tendencies and recent effectivness on the ground paired with Jackson’s tenacious running style gives Buffalo a terrific backfield combo.

Even with diminished carries, Jackson’s role in the offense will not change. He was the main reason that the lack of a deep passing game wasn’t an issue for nearly seven weeks. Jackson was far and away the team’s MVP and proved it on a near weekly basis. Pairing him with Spiller makes the Bills’ running game far more dangerous as the 2012 season approaches. Continue reading