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Does Bills RB Spiller want the ball until he throws up?



Now that Bills Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has said they'll be giving the ball to CJ Spiller until he "throws up or taps out", you might be wondering how much Spiller could handle and how does he feel about it?
 
The former Clemson running back was a guest on the WGR morning show at training camp recently and said he and Hackett have talked about his role for the upcoming season but Spiller didn't want to get into specifics.
 
"I’ve had conversations with Coach Hackett but those conversations will stick between us" Spiller said.   "I walked away very pleased with the conversations we had. Whatever the coaches want, how many times he calls it(his number), that’s his decision.  I cant get caught up in how many times you want to carry it and things like that.  You can carry it 30 times and get 200 yards rushing and still lose the game.  I’m going to be the first one that’s going to be ticked off."
 
Over his three year NFL career, Spiller has averaged just 8.43 carries a game and 10.7 touches a game when you add in his receptions.  There have been only three games in which Spiller  had at least 20 rushes and all three were last season.  His career high for carries in a single game is 24, set against the Jets in last year's season finale.  If the Bills increase his total number of rushes in a game, how high could they go?  Spiller was asked if he could handle 20 carries a game on the average.
 
"The biggest thing that I learned from Hall of Fame running backs is you’ve got to have the mindset of longevity with your career" Spiller told WGR.  "You see guys like Arian Foster that carried it almost 400 times,(it was 351 in 2012), that’s a lot of touches. That takes a toll on your body.  Could I do it? Yes.  Would I want to do it every game? No.  I’m just worried about winning every game."

Spiller wasn't a "workhorse back" in college either.  Over a four year career at Clemson, Spiller averaged 11.4 carries a game and 13.7 touches.  His single season highs came as a senior in 2009 when he carried the ball 216 times in 14 games and had 36 catches for a total of 252 touches.

Last season with the Bills he had highs of 207 carries in 16 games(15 plus because he missed a good chunk of the Cleveland game with an injury) and 250 touches. Spiller had 20 or more carries in a game only five times in his Tigers career and four came in his final season.  His single game high for rushes was 26 in 2009.
 
Spiller was asked about the balance between wanting the ball as much as possible and being a part of a team concept where less touches wouldn't necessarily mean less chances to win.
 
"As a player you want to touch it  to help your team win but I think it goes back to my roots in high school" Spiller said.   "I didn’t carry it that much and we were very successful.   There’s no way I can just flip the switch and say I want to carry it this many times, because in my whole career, if you start from high school, I probably average 12 carries.  For me to flip that and say let me carry it 20 times, it would be hard for me to do, a hard adjustment."

In case you were curious about the work load for backs, in terms of carries per season, over the last five years, here is the information.  Out of the top five backs, each season going back to 2008, in terms of total number of rushes for the year, 22 of the 25 had at least 300 carries.  That would work out to an average of just over 18 carries a game for Spiller.  Here is the average for the total number of carries of the top 5 backs in each of the last five years:
 
2012- 333
2011- 300
2010- 327
2009- 327
2008- 341
 
Here are Spiller's total rushes each year, with the Bills(2010-2012) and Clemson(2006-2009) followed by the total number of touches for the season:
 
Bills
2012- 207/250
2011- 107/146
2010-   74/98
 
Clemson
2009- 216/252
2008- 116/150
2007- 145/179
2006- 129/148
 
You can hear the entire interview with CJ Spiller:
 
 
 
 


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