As a Bills fan, heading into the 2012 season I am nothing but optimistic. Everyone is talking about the signing of the best free agent available this off-season. Along with the addition of Mark Anderson, to round out, on paper, one of the best defensive lines in the league. Furthermore, other fans point to the great 2012 draft and the addition of Stephon Gilmore, Cordy Glenn, T.J. Graham and Nigel Bradham (with possible late round steals of Zebrie Sanders and Tank Carder).
But what excites me more than all of that is the run game. Sure, a healthy Fred Jackson will be a great piece to the offense but something tells me C.J. Spiller is going to be the offensive player every one is talking about by the end of the season. Most Bills fans I talk to about Spiller have already wrote him off, called him a bust and proclaimed this Jacksons’ team.
Let me take a page out of Lee Corso’s book, Not So Fast My Friend
If I asked you to name the top 5 running backs by yards per attempt last year, would you include C.J. Spiller? Probably not but he is there. Fred Jackson and DeMarco Murray led the league with 5.5 yards per attempt, followed by Darren McFadden, Ben Tate, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart at 5.4 yards per attempt. Spiller is right behind this group at 5.2 yards per attempt.
Spiller also had seven carries over 20 yards which was 13th best in the NFL. However, Spiller did that with only 107 attempts. LeSean Mccoy, who led the league with 14 carries of 20 yards or more had 273 attempts. If you limit this stat to 200 carries or less, Spiller becomes the fourth highest running back who broke a run off for 20 or more yards. If you set it to 150 carries, Spiller becomes the second highest just behind McFadden.
Now I am sure by now you are saying “sure you can skew stats to make almost any player look good”.
But, Spiller’s numbers speak for themself. If Spiller had doubled his carries (to 214 carries), and his stats, he would have finished the season with 1,122 yards and 8 touchdowns. That would have placed Spiller at 10th in rushing yards last year and 12th in rushing touchdowns.
Still need more convincing? No problem. Did I mention that when Spiller was starting, the Buffalo Bills were missing two of their five starting offensive lineman. Left tackle Demetrius Bell and center Eric Wood were gone for the season.
If Spiller was the permanent starter for the Buffalo Bills he would certainly break 1,000 yards rushing and could top 500 yards receiving. Spiller is the explosive weapons the Bills backfield needs. If he can learn how to shake defenders when he gets into the open field, look out because Spiller will be a problem. Chan Gailey got creative with Spiller and Jackson last year before Jackson was injured and I expect nothing different in 2012. If you are looking for a “sleeper” player in 2012, look no further because it will be C.J. Spiller.
So, I have to ask, where is the love for C.J. Spiller?