Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller seemed to be hobbled all year on a high-ankle sprain that he tried to play through, and it was reminiscent of Fred Jackson’s 2012 season in which he valiantly played through an MCL sprain that he never actually rested. Spiller’s season was a disappointment through the first eight weeks, save for a 103-yard day in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers to help lead the Bills to a last-gasp upset. He then woke up for a whopping 155 yards on just 14 touches against the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9 but would only have four 100-yard rushing performances all year. That doesn’t sound too bad, but we were expecting a truly monstrous season from Spiller, who is one of the most dynamic players in the game. Still, he did rip off 149 yards on just 15 carries against the Atlanta Falcons and did it while still suffering a bit from ankle pain.
Overall, Spiller had a better season than some people think, as he averaged 4.6 yards per carry (I hope nobody expected him to match his insane average of six yards per carry set in 2012) and had 927 rushing yards with 33 receptions. We all thought that Spiller would put up bigger rushing totals, though, since he ran for 1,244 yards on just six more carries last year (207 compared to 201 this season) and was expected to receive even more carries and usurp Fred Jackson as the No. 1 back under first-year offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
That didn’t materialize, though, as Spiller suffered through injuries, and it leaves some people wondering whether or not Spiller can be a true feature back. I think he should be used frequently due to his top-notch talent, but it is best for the Bills to manage his snaps in order to optimize his carries.
ESPN’s Matt Williamson is somebody whose opinion I respect a great deal, and he says that Spiller shouldn’t be used as a workhorse back and is more of a Darren Sproles-type player, “I think that he needs to be used right. By that I mean, he can’t be a workhorse back, because he’s so reliant on speed and explosiveness and he’s not that big, obviously, that if he is going to get hammered play after play and run up the gut 15 times a game, you’re going to use him up too fast. I think he needs to be closer to a [Darren] Sproles type, where you split him out wide and run wide receiver routes with him, get him in space, run more draws.”
Follow the link above for more thoughts from Williamson on Spiller, who is undoubtedly one of the most talented backs around.