By Tim Graham
C.J. Spiller has a bogeyman, and this phantom villain is trying to keep the electrifying Buffalo Bills running back from touching the football.
Spiller this week appeared on the NFL Network's "NFL AM" morning show and referenced imaginary naysayers, reiterating comments he made on the postgame set of last Thursday's 19-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Spiller was asked why he considered his 22-carry, 91-yard effort was a statement.
"Because everybody is always asking, 'Can he tote it 20-plus times? Will his body hold up?' He's too small to do it,' " Spiller said. "So I just wanted to go out and prove everybody wrong.
"I don't think any of my teammates were discouraged or didn't have the faith I could do it, but to everyone else outside of these walls I wanted to show that I could. I was glad I was able to do it and that we were able to most importantly get away with a win."
Where Spiller is getting this feedback, I have no idea. Fans, local media, national analysts and numbers crunchers have questioned Bills coach Chan Gailey's reluctance to give Spiller the ball more often. Even with Fred Jackson out of the lineup last week, Spiller came out of the game on third-and-short situations and in the red zone.
Spiller certainly doesn't sound like a player who's upset with his coach as much as he is these mysterious doubters.
Spiller expressed faith in Gailey, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills' playoff chances.
Spiller on whether Gailey will get the job done in Buffalo:
"He will. We have all of the confidence in the world in him. He knows how to get his team prepared. He gets us prepared each and every week, and it's up to us to go out there and play. He can only call the plays, but at the end of the day it's up to the players to go out and make the plays happen.
"He's the best coach that I've ever had because he knows how to find ways to make guys win their matchup. I'm looking forward to having him as my coach hopefully for a long time here. At the end of the day, we'll get the job done for him."
Spiller on why Fitzpatrick is the right person to lead the Bills back to the playoffs:
"Because he comes in and puts in the hard work. Nobody sees the hard work that he puts in week in and week out, all of the hours that he stays studying film, taking notes. And then on game day, the guy is a winner. He goes out there and he competes.
"Even on my runs, he's out there trying to throw a block for me. You don't see the Tom Bradys, the Peyton Mannings and the Drew Breeses doing that type of stuff. To me, I love Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"He can get us to where we want. We just have to limit the turnovers. Once we do that, we win games. That's the main focus. We're glad that we have him as our quarterback."
Spiller on why the Bills should be considered playoff contenders:
"Just like I tell everybody: This is the NFL. ... Each week you have to show up. We've seen that this past weekend with the Texans and the Jaguars; a team that has the best record in the AFC but kind of struggled against a team that didn't have a great record. Each week you have to bring your lunchbox to play.
"Each week we take it as a playoff game. This is the second round for us. We know it's going to be tough. It's pretty much a win-or-go-home, and we know [the Indianapolis Colts] are going to be fired up. They're coming off a tough loss, so we have to make sure that we're prepared and we're ready to handle all of the adversity that is going to come throughout that game on Sunday."
(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)