Back in February, speaking from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey told reporters exactly what he told running back C.J. Spiller following his rookie season: Spiller needs to improve his ball security and pass protection.
Obviously, Gailey's correct about that. But he's also a head coach that wants his players to excel in all facets of the game; heading into a 2011 season in which Spiller needs to up his production considerably (lest he begin hearing the "bust" word), however, I'm of the belief that ball security is a much more important hurdle for Spiller to clear.
Gailey wants Spiller to improve in those two areas simply so the speedster can be on the field more. A lack of ability in pass protection can be schemed around, particularly when Spiller is such a dynamic threat as a receiver. A lack of reliability with the ball in your hands cannot - and Spiller won't start churning out more big plays until Gailey sees him as a reliable carrier of the football.
There is still no reason to believe that Spiller won't get infinitely more comfortable on the field in his second pro season. He can't start that process until he fixes his fumbling problem (five fumbles - with three lost - in 98 touches is clearly unacceptable). It needs to happen quickly, because this Bills offense - which has the potential to be pretty good - needs Spiller on the field.
Previous keys to 2011: Fitzpatrick to Evans