Bills RB Jackson reclaims starting job
Running back Fred Jackson doesn’t have time to question the
reasoning behind why the Buffalo Bills traded Marshawn Lynch to
Seattle – though he was aware a deal had been in the works.
What matters to Jackson is providing the Bills’ sputtering
offense a sense of identity now that he’s reclaimed the starting
job he had in taking over for Lynch midway through last season.
”That’s the business side of it, that’s what they handle
upstairs,” Jackson said, before practice Wednesday, a day after
Lynch was traded to the Seahawks in exchange for draft picks. ”All
we can do is come out here on the field and play with the guys we
have. We have to focus on going out and winning football
And that’s been the problem for the winless Bills, who are going
through another round of upheaval in preparing to host Jacksonville
(2-2) on Sunday.
Last week Buffalo was shuffling quarterbacks after the team cut
former starter Trent Edwards, who has since signed with the Jaguars
and will serve as the team’s backup this weekend. This week its
running backs, as the Bills came to the conclusion that three is,
in fact, a crowd.
Lynch’s departure frees up more carries for both Jackson and
rookie first-round pick C.J. Spiller, who’s yet to provide the
spark he showed in scoring three touchdowns this preseason.
In his first opportunity to discuss the trade, coach Chan Gailey
wouldn’t go provide details into the timing of the move even though
Lynch had first asked to be dealt well before the Bills drafted
”I don’t get into sooner or later, there’s a lot of things that
go into decisions like this,” he said. ”You’re trying to do
what’s best for your team. And it worked out that a trade was made,
and we’re fortunate we have two good players that can carry the
load for us the rest of the way.”
Gailey said he’s leaning on Jackson because, as a fourth-year
player, he has more experience. And he intends to get Spiller more
involved. Spiller has scored a touchdown receiving and another on a
kickoff return, but has only 49 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Lynch had received the bulk of the work in starting the past
three games, and led the team with 37 carries – three more than
Jackson and Spiller had combined – for 164 yards. That left Jackson
and Spiller splitting limited playing time because the Bills
offense was either having difficulty sustaining drives or forced to
play catch-up by going primarily with a passing attack.
Not much has worked on an offense that’s failed to generate 230
yards in three of its four games, and averaging 13.5 first
The Bills all but bottomed out in a 38-14 loss to the Jets last
weekend. It was a game in which quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led
the team with 74 yards rushing, Buffalo went 0 for 10 in third-down
conversions and finished with 19:31 in time of possession.
Enter Jackson, who had a breakout season last year in finishing
with a team-leading and career-best 1,062 yards rushing.
Jackson learned of his promotion upon arriving for team meetings
Wednesday and shortly after he wished Lynch well with his new team
during a phone conversation.
”Now it’s my time to stand up here and try to make plays,”
Jackson said. ”It’s going to be a challenge. It always is, but
it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”
The trade didn’t catch Jackson by surprise because he said Lynch
had kept him up to date on the progress of trade talks over the
past few weeks.
Spiller, selected ninth overall out of Clemson, was surprised by
the move, saying he thought a three-back rotation had a chance to
work. Spiller, however, acknowledged he’s having difficulty finding
”I’m still unsure what my role is,” Spiller said. ”It’s kind
of disappointing that you don’t really know. But at the same time,
you know what you can bring to this team. I stay encouraged by
that. So you just wait your turn and try to help the team any way
Fitzpatrick wasn’t surprised by the trade, given how the offense
has sputtered and the team is winless.
”Well, there’s never a dull moment in the NFL, especially when
you’re losing,” Fitzpatrick said. ”It’s just one of those things
we had talked about, crowded backfield and trying to get everybody
touches. Hopefully, it works out for Marshawn, and hopefully, it
works out well for us.”