PHOENIX (WGR 550) -- When the two biggest playmakers a team has on offense both play running back, it serves as a fairly peculiar proposition when trying to decide how much time each player gets on the field in a given game.
With both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in the lineup and as healthy as they've been, that's the exact scenario the Buffalo Bills will undertake. In Week Five against San Francisco, each player had an equal amount of time on the field -- 23 snaps each to be exact.
With the score as lopsided as it was the two runners never really got an opportunity to establish themselves, only totaling 16 carries between them. Head coach Chan Gailey knows that can't be the case if the Bills want to have success moving forward.
"We need to get (the running game) back," he said. "If we don't get that back, we will struggle offensively. We have to have a balanced running game to complement our passing game. We have to use both of them, get them both involved to let them go play."
But there in itself is the conundrum.
How does Gailey strike a balance to get both players involved, when each man has showed in past performances that they get better with a full load as the game progresses? Getting both Jackson and Spiller in to the flow of the game can serve as a rather daunting task.
Gailey agreed that there is a concern in regards to that notion.
"There always is and I do not know how to solve that problem when you have two great players at the same position," the head coach remarked. "If one all of a sudden gets a hot hand, it is easy to figure that out but when you go into a game and have two great players, you want to play them as equal as possible. Then see how the game is going—is what you do."
So what do the two men tethered to each other in this running back by committee approach think of it all? From their words, it's a bit of a non-issue to them.
"It's not really hard," said Spiller. "In order for us to get where we want we're both going to need me and Fred to be as healthy as possible down the long stretch. We both understand that, and we both set aside our pride and understand that we're probably not going to get as many carries as we want. But when we're in there we've got to do the best job we can."
Jackson spoke along the same lines.
"It's something we just can't concern ourselves with," he said. "We have to go out there and make a play whenever we're called upon. Whether we get the ball five or six times or 20, 25 times. The best thing we can do is just try and make a play out there."
The Bills could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by using packages that have both running backs on the field at the same time. It's something that hasn't been seen since both players went down with their respective injuries, but something each is open to.
"You always want to be on the field," Jackson stated. "If that were a way for me to get on the field I would definitely be up to that and I know C.J. is the same way. If we're both out there, we both have an opportunity to make a play."
It's likely, however, that both Jackson and Spiller will be out there on different plays for the majority of the game. The challenge to stay in the flow of the game has to be met head on over near the bench area just as much as it does when lined up behind the offensive line.
"You just have to be in to it mentally," Spiller remarked. "Of course you're not out there during the plays, but once you do, you'll be fine."
The Bills will attempt to both strike the balance and ride the hot hand between their top two runners on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.