After the Bills wrapped up the 2011 season with C.J. Spiller exploding onto the scene over the last six games of the year in place of the injured Fred Jackson, it led to the decision by Chan Gailey and his staff to change their offensive approach.
Instead of going to a largely spread attack much like the first two seasons, Gailey and his offensive assistants chose to lean more heavily on their two dynamic backs, an approach that the Bills head coach had not previously adopted in his NFL career. In his offensive coaching career Gailey had leaned on one feature back whether it was Bobby Humphrey in Denver, Jerome Bettis in Pittsburgh or Emmitt Smith in Dallas. Obviously injuries to Jackson at three different times this season compromised those plans this season.
“Last year when C.J. got a chance to play and show how explosive he was and we came into the season saying we’ve got two great backs, let’s use them both,” said Gailey Monday reflecting back on the previous offseason. “Let’s let them both get carries that way we may not wear one down and keep them for the whole year, which didn’t work out, but that was the plan.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick acknowledged that their approach did shift from a wide open spread attack to an offense that was designed to run it more.
“I think our philosophy has changed a little bit this year, just in terms of how dynamic our guys in the backfield are, and trying to get them the ball,” he said. “I think the numbers with the passing game are down in terms of yardage, I don’t know about completion percentage, passing efficiency, any of that stuff. I think we want to be a team that obviously we feature our guys in the backfield, we want to get them the ball.”
With Jackson in and out of the lineup with two knee injuries and a concussion it compromised the offensive approach for 2012 and has left the Bills still searching for a true offensive identity.
“I think this year has been a little bit different in terms of trying to gain our identity,” said Fitzpatrick. “But there has been a change this year—there’s more play action. We’ve been trying to move a little bit more towards that because how effective we’ve been in the ground game this year. The four wide receiver sets used to be our M-O, but with David (Nelson) going down, moving more to having Scott (Chandler) in there with the three wide receiver sets—there’s definitely been some changes this year.”
Despite the struggles on offense of late, Gailey believes his decision to make use of both Jackson and Spiller as much as possible was the right call.
“We made the decision, which seemed like the best decision at the time, which I still believe is the best decision that we could’ve made considering our situation with two great players,” he said. “I’d do it again if I had it to do over. It was the best decision and you go with the best decision.”
Tags: C.J. Spiller, Chan Gailey, Fred Jackson, Ryan Fitzpatrick
Posted in Inside the Bills