Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

A plausible explanation for how C.J. Spiller might get winded

By Tim Graham

Chan Gailey was mocked, including on this blog, for claiming Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller got winded. Spiller expressed dismay over the implication.

An assembly of Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs chided Gailey in The Buffalo News for not giving the ball to Spiller more frequently.

But at least one person understands where Gailey was coming from.

Pete Metzelaars, the tight ends coach fired along with the rest of Gailey's staff, can explain why Spiller might not be able to handle a feature-back workload.

It's because every one of Spiller's touches is like a touch and a half for another back.

"The suddenness takes more out of him," Metzelaars told me recently. "Some running backs put down their shoulder pads and bang it up the middle for 4 yards, and that's how far they've run. C.J. will jump in that hole and try to bounce it outside and cut back.

"He does a lot more in that 4-yard run. He's worked harder and run farther than that other guy."

Spiller ranked eighth in rushing yards, but 22nd in attempts. He ran 207 times for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns.

"I know everybody said in the paper 'He needs to carry the ball 20, 25 times a game.' I don't know that he can or will be able to be that kind of guy," Metzelaars said.

"He's a special talent. He's so quick and so fast. Unfortunately with C.J., because of that quick-twitch kind of stuff and the speed, when he's bouncing outside and running around and spinning, he's not able to carry the ball that many times a game.

"You'd like to hit the opponent with a combination of him and Fred Jackson, where they get the ball 30 to 35 times a game receiving or carrying the ball. But to say 'We need to hand the ball off to C.J. 25 times a game, and it's going to be great,' I don't know if he could carry the ball that many times -- or would want to."


C.J. Spiller | Fred Jackson | Pete Metzelaars
comments powered by Disqus

About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |