Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Sports

August 23, 2010

Will the Bills rotate runners?

In NFL, Gailey favored a firm pecking order, but in college, he utilized committees

PITTSFORD — Eric Wood went over the rushing riches on the Buffalo Bills roster Sunday.

The emerging right guard noted that Buffalo has a former Pro Bowler in Marshawn Lynch and a dynamic first-round draft pick in C.J. Spiller.

“And possibly,” Wood said, “the best one of the three is Freddy (Jackson).”

Wood didn’t even have to mention Joique Bell, last year’s Division II player of the year, who has rushed for a league-leading 132 yards and two touchdowns in the first two preseason games.

Right now, Jackson and Lynch are both on the sidelines wearing weighted vests, providing plenty of practice time for Spiller and Bell. Jackson has a hand injury that could cost him to miss one or two regular season games, and Lynch has an ankle injury that is expected to be healed in time for the opener.

When all the backs are healthy, how will new coach Chan Gailey delegate duties in his running back committee?

History suggests he’ll pick the best back and run him hard.

ESPN.com fantasy football analyst Matthew Berry noted earlier this summer that in the five seasons since 1998 that Gailey has worked in the NFL, he’s never given multiple backs an equal share of carries.

Of course, in his two years as head coach in Dallas, Gailey had the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, at his disposal.

But as Miami’s offensive coordinator in 2000 and 2001, Lamar Smith averaged 311 carries, while no other back rushed the ball even 60 times.

When he was in charge of Kansas City’s offense in 2008, Gailey gave Larry Johnson 193 carries, and Jamaal Charles rushed 67 times.

ESPN.com blogger Tim Graham expanded the analysis to include Gailey’s two prior stints as an offensive coordinator, with the Steelers (1996-97) and the Broncos (1988-89).

In Pittsburgh, Gailey relied heavily in Jerome Bettis. In Denver, Gailey split carries somewhat equally between Tony Dorsett and Sammy Winder in his first season, but then gave rookie Bobby Humphrey 294 carries the next season, while Winder had 110.

Thanks to the new college football pages at sports-reference.com, we can see how Gailey distributed the rushing load in his five seasons as head coach of Georgia Tech, and it paints a bit of a different picture.

Only twice — in 2003 and 2006 — did the leading rusher get twice as many carries as the No. 2 pick, and in both case, the secondary back touched the ball about 10 times per game.

Gailey has said that he wanted to use the first three preseason games to learn what his running backs do best, and then decide which role each one will play. With Jackson and Lynch going down early in the first contest, that plan has been foiled.

“When you lose those two guys, it kind of sets you back in the direction you want to go,” Gailey said Sunday.

Gailey’s desire to play two backs at one time on occasion — something that was shown early in training camp — is also now on the back burner.

“We’ll just work on our one-back stuff,” Gailey said last week. “And when those guys get back, we’ll start on the other stuff.”

Judging by Thursday’s preseason performance, Spiller might be so spectacular in the “one-back stuff” that the Bills can’t afford to take the ball out of his hands.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • 140416 Abdallah MAIN art.jpg Abdallah ranked No. 5 in the world

    Lockport's Amer Abdallah has been ranked No. 5 in the world in the Cruiserweight Division by the World Kickboxing Association.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140416 LBA art.png Voss is still boss at City Tournament

    Lockport bowling legend Don Voss rolled a Lockport City Bowling Tournament-record 862 three-game series to earn the handicap doubles title with his daughter, Angel Ritz.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140416 Sabres' wrap.jpg Sabres officially bottomed out with season over

    Things can't get much worse in Buffalo following a season during which the team set numerous dubious lows.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414 Masters MAIN art.jpg My dear Watson

    Bubba Watson’s second Masters title was nothing like the green jacket he won two years ago.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140411 Masters R1 ART.jpg Haas grabs Masters first round lead

    With dad in his ear, Bill Haas turned in the best round of his Masters career Thursday.

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • 140411 Sabres Rangers ART.jpg Late goal fells Sabres

    Rick Nash scored the winning goal with 1:42 left, on New York's third shot of the third period, and the Rangers clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Barker uses Wilson to beat Wilson

    Sophomore Brad Wilson sparked visiting Barker to an opening day 13-4 Niagara-Orleans League baseball victory over Wilson on Thursday.

    April 10, 2014

  • 140410 LHS Track ART.jpg Track Lions sweep Niagara Falls

    Brittany Sanford was a triple individual winner on Wednesday, as the Lockport High School boys and girls track teams swept visiting Niagara Falls in the 2014 Niagara Frontier League track and field opener for both schools.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140409 LHS Weather ART.JPG Weather or not

    Such is the current state of Lockport's unplayable athletic fields in the second week of April — a mixture of grass and soupy mud rendered useless by a late 2013-14 winter, melting snow and persistent rain.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140409 Sabres ART.jpg Wings clip Sabres, close in on playoffs

    The Detroit Red Wings inched closer to clinching a playoff berth with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Sabres
Bills
AP Video
Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement Raw: UConn Celebrates for Second Straight Night UConn Women Win NCAA Basketball Championship Raw: Workers at Brazil Olympic Park on Strike Some Arrests As Fans Celebrate UConn Win UConn Wins NCAA Men's Basketball Championship UConn Wins NCAA Men's Basketball Champsionship Connecticut, Kentucky Fans React to NCAA Win Connecticut, Kentucky Meet for the Title AP Player of Year: Creighton's Doug McDermott Fearsome Final Foursome Head to North Texas College Athletes Take Labor Cause to Washington Northwestern Practices After Union Ruling Woods Has Back Surgery, Will Miss the Masters Raw: Obama, 'Big Papi' of Red Sox Take Selfie Raw: LA Angels Don Baylor Suffers Leg Injury Seahawks, Sounders Visit Town Near Mudslide Milwaukee Brewers' Adopted Mascot Is Big Hit Tigers' Cabrera Gets Record $292M, 10-year Deal Dayton, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin in Elite 8
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide