Maybe it’s time for C.J. Spiller to stop being such a nice guy.
Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone suggested after Sunday’s game that Spiller should get into his offensive linemen’s grills about blocking better.
Spiller had another miserable game even though his Bills waylaid the New York Jets, 37-14, in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“I know it was terrible today,” Spiller said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know I didn’t have a good day rushing the ball. I probably was in negative yards.”
Not quite, but almost. Spiller ran 13 times for 6 yards. His longest gain was 3 yards. He was tackled for no gain or negative yards five times.
One play was particularly frustrating. Against a loaded box about five minutes before halftime, the Bills ran anyway. Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson shot through the Bills’ line and tackled Spiller for a 4-yard loss.
You could almost see the steam shooting from the ear holes in Spiller’s helmet as he walked to the sideline.
Marrone made it a point to speak with Spiller. Marrone was upset with the offensive line, noting they were falling down and whiffing on some run blocks.
“If you’re a running back and you’re getting the ball, that’s something you don’t expect,” Marrone said. “You can live with the other stuff.
Marrone said he told Spiller afterward that he would be upset, too, if he were running the ball.
“But the difference between me and you,” Marrone said he told Spiller, “and this is what you have to do now – is go over to that group right there, that offensive line, and you tell them” about being angry.
Spiller had no quarrel with Marrone’s advice.
“He’s exactly right,” Spiller said. “When things aren’t going right, it’s about holding each other accountable. It’s nothing about degrading my teammates or anything like that. It’s just letting them know that we have to get going.”
Spiller admitted that venting isn’t a foreign concept to him. He recently spoke to Thurman Thomas about this very topic, asking the Hall of Fame running back how to confront negative issues without sparking a controversy.
Bills center Eric Wood acknowledged Spiller’s frustrations and welcomed his input.
“If he’s not comfortable saying something, then maybe him doing that is not the best way,” Wood said. “But if he’s comfortable saying something, we respect him. We know what he can do when we give him holes. We’ve got to do a better job for him.”
Legendary Bills receiver Andre Reed attended Sunday’s game and was in the locker room afterward. Reed laughed when asked whether Thomas had the temerity to confront Pro Bowl linemen such as Jim Ritcher, Kent Hull or Howard Ballard.
“If it ain’t going right and you’re the main guy, you get up in somebody’s face regardless,” Reed said. “Get up in the offensive line’s face and say something. Thurman didn’t give a damn who he was talking to.
“If it’s bothering me, I’d get in somebody’s face. Hell, I’m out here working, too.”
Spiller’s backfield mates, Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice, didn’t fare much better Sunday. The Bills combined for 68 yards on 38 carries.
“We have the guys that can get the job done,” Spiller said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of room out there, but we’ll get it corrected. That’s the encouraging part.”
For the first time, Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett called plays from the sideline instead of the press box.
The decision was made to help rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who was coming off a poor performance a week earlier against the Pittsburgh Steelers, his first game back from a knee injury.
“We thought it would be better for the quarterback to have Nate down there,” Marrone said. “With a young quarterback, trying to get him back … it’s a different sense.”
Marrone conceded it’s easier to call plays from the higher perch, but the Bills plan to keep Hackett on the sideline for the rest of the year.
Manuel’s performance certainly validated that plan. He rebounded with only eight incomplete passes, 245 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers. Manuel’s 121.9 passer rating is his best through seven pro games.
“Just being able to look him in the eye,” Manuel said of the benefit. “I haven’t had face-to-face communication. Instead of being on a mike or a telephone or things like that, it was really good having him down there.
“He’s not going back up. He’ll be down there for the rest of my career.”
The Bills won Sunday without their top two receivers. Stevie Johnson (groin) and Robert Woods (ankle) didn’t dress because of injuries.
When the Bills played the Jets at the Meadowlands in Week Three, Manuel targeted Johnson and Woods 23 times.
Johnson leads Buffalo with 41 catches, 471 yards and three touchdowns. Woods is second among wide receivers with 26 catches, 349 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bills are on their bye week. They will practice today, Tuesday and Wednesday and then be off until Nov. 25.
“This is a good time to rest up,” Spiller said. “We have guys that are nicked up. We can get those guys back to 100 percent, and it’s another great opportunity for me to rest my ankle again.”
The Bills’ next game will be Dec. 1 against the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto.