Our Worst Fears Realized: Fred Jackson’s Season is Over…Any Chance C.J. Spiller Can Produce?


And the month from hell continues.

Just a month ago, the Buffalo Bills were 5-2 and on top of the world. Since then, everything that possibly could have gone wrong has. The team has gotten blown out three straight times. The quarterback suddenly can’t throw worth a crap, and when he does, the receivers can’t catch it. The defense can’t even slow down opposing offenses. Injuries to key players began piling up.

Through it all, at least the Bills had Fred Jackson, who was leading the league in rushing and generally playing awesomely. Through the midpoint of the season, you could have made a case for him as the league MVP.

But suddenly, shockingly, he’s gone too.

The Bills had to place Jackson on injured reserve today after tests revealed that the seemingly minor leg injury he suffered Sunday in Miami was more serious than initially feared. Here’s the statement from head coach Chan Gailey:

“Further tests on Fred’s injured leg have shown that he has a broken bone in his leg, so that’s disappointing news for our team and certainly for Fred. The process for Fred to return to the field would most likely take him through the end of the season, so we have made the difficult decision to place him on Injured Reserve. This creates an opportunity for C.J. [Spiller] and, as we announced earlier, he will be our starting running back for this week’s game against the Jets.”‘

Well, this sucks.

And this like that, Buffalo’s best player is done until 2012. Add that to the Kyle Williams, Eric Wood, and Shawne Merriman injuries and in the past few weeks the Bills have lost (arguably) their four best players for the season. It’s tough for any team to absorb losses like that.

If there’s any positives from this news at all, it’s that the man being charged with replacing Jackson in the lineup will be none other than C.J. Spiller. As Gailey said, Spiller will be the starting running back this weekend against the Jets. Spiller’s really had trouble getting carries (only 21 this season) with Jackson’s tremendous play forcing Gailey to keep the veteran on the field. But now the 2010 first-round draft pick has six games to show what he can do. And believe me, unless he’s a complete disaster Spiller is going to get plenty of chances. The Bills suddenly have no playmakers left on offense, and maybe a very fresh Spiller is just the spark the team needs. (Go ahead and smirk at that one…I have no reason to actually be that optimistic.)

If Spiller has any heart at all, he’s going to be running HARD these last six games. His NFL career probably depends on it.

To fill Jackson’s spot on the roster, the Bills claimed RB Tashard Choice off waivers from Washington. The fourth-year player had a few moments in the sun with the Cowboys before getting released earlier this month in the wake of the emergence of rookie sensation DeMarco Murray. Choice landed with the Redskins but only lasted a week when the notoriously running back-fickle Mike Shanahan let him go after he gained just seven yards on six carries in Washington’s loss to Dallas Sunday.

Choice has a history with Gailey as he played under the Bills coach at Georgia Tech, where he led the ACC conference in rushing in back-to-back seasons. He finished his college career with over 3,400 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns.

I actually like the pickup of Choice quite a bit – he has experience as a third-down back and can help pass protect if Spiller struggles. It will be interesting to see who gets more work: Choice or rookie Johnny White.