Thursday, May 30, 2013

Marrone changing Bills' tailback philosophy


The biggest folly of former Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey was his application of the team's running game.

With one of the best backfield duos in the NFL in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, Gailey used the pair one dimensionally: Spiller for speed and Jackson for power. (photo: Matt Britt, Flickr)

Even worse, he split reps between the two regardless of whether one was hot or not. And sometimes, he just flat out neglected to use Spiller -- the Bills' most explosive player -- when the team needed him most.

Newcomer Doug Marrone is still planning on implementing a two-back system in Buffalo, but he has slightly more logical thought process in mind for the veteran and the elusive playmaker.

"I think we have an opportunity to have two backs back there that can be productive," Marrone told the media Wednesday. "At times, we have had them in the same backfield together during this camp. It gives us a great sense of it is not that one guy. I think when we get into it we will be able to spell the guys when we need it.

"My philosophy has always been if someone starts off and they are running well, just keep feeding them the ball."

While that might not be new news for Bills fans, it's likely a relief to hear it confirmed. Buffalo's run game has been electric at times over the past two years, but it has also floundered at critical times due to a predictable game plan and a lack of momentum.

While neither back came right out and said it last year, Gailey's implementation seemed to be a thorn in each of their sides and a detriment to the overall teamwork between the two. 

Marrone said the two have seemed to embrace the new schematic, and that each are preparing for whatever role they're asked to take on.

"I think I have really seen him (Spiller), as well as Fred, work on the things that can make them both complete backs," Marrone said. "That is our goal. When we put them back there to make sure they are complete backs."

Spiller averaged six yards a carry last season on more than 200 carries while taking the majority of the snaps for the backfield. Jackson, despite his injuries the past couple of seasons, has still managed to keep his production up as well, averaging nearly four yards per carry last season and more than five in 2011.

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