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Bills can have an elite running offense, but that's not enough

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is young and considered a progressive.

Even so, just last week Hackett commented it's never a bad idea for a quarterback to pivot and hand off the ball.

"You always want to be running the ball," Hackett said. "When in doubt, give the ball to a back."

No doubt, it's a much better idea when the running backs are C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

Behind Spiller's gaudy stats, the Bills ranked fourth in the NFL last year in rushing average at 5.052 yards per carry. Even more impressive, they were 32nd in NFL history.

This month, broke out the greatest all-time team averages. Forty-two teams have registered over 5 yards a pop, and three of them are the Bills.

Powered by O.J. Simpson and the Electric Company, the 1973 and 1975 Bills rank 24th and 30th all-time. Last year's club ranks 32nd.

The Bills prove that a robust rushing average doesn't guarantee victories. All three of their 5-yard seasons -- and 11 of the 42 teams overall -- had losing records.

Only four on the list won championships. The 1963 San Diego Chargers (eight teams) and 1966 Kansas City Chiefs (nine teams) were in the AFL.


C.J. Spiller | Fred Jackson | Nathaniel Hackett | O.J. Simpson
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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 |