Editor's Note: More great FanPost work from J2. Well done! - BG
The quarterback has been, and probably will always be, the most important position to an offense - and that won't change for the Buffalo Bills in 2012. However the 1B to the 1A, I think, is going to be the running backs.
You can easily argue for the offensive line, and i'll listen intently, but I do believe that most of our offensive success (after Ryan Fitzpatrick) lies in our running backs' hands. Head down after the jump to find out why!
Buffalo is going to be in an awful lot of 3 and 4 WR sets this year. It's no surprise that Fitz struggles under pressure as we've seen him have this issue time and time again. So when Buffalo is in passing mode it'll be important that which ever RB stays in to block is really good at it.
Jackson is a fantastic blocking RB but there is a drop off going from Jackson to Spiller that teams will try and take advantage of. If the offense is going to keep moving the ball then both Jackson and Spiller need to be on their A games in respect to pass blocking for Fitz.
Jackson and Spiller are unique in that they both can line up at RB then immediately play any of the WR positions. The key to this is going from a run formation to a pass formation without changing personnel. Buffalo can pound the rock then go 4 WR's and not allow the defense to change personnel creating a mismatch on the field. Fitz can exploit that mismatch or the defense might have to call a time out.
I expect to see more 2 RB sets this year for that exact reason. Buffalo's RBs are perfect for creating mismatches because of their speed and elusiveness. Going no-huddle from 2 RB to 4 WR sets is going to give defensive coordinators fits.
Since Fitz isn't a master QB when under pressure Buffalo will need to utilize the screen game to try and keep the pass rush at bay. Luckily Jackson and Spiller are both really good at the screen game which defenses will have to account for on every pass play. If the defensive lines doesn't respect the screen game and watch out for it they will get burned as we saw plenty last season. Keeping the screen game going and a often used part of our offense is a requirement to not only moving the ball but keeping the pressure off of Fitz.
Hey our RBs can run the ball too!
Buffalo boasted the 4th best YPC last season with an average of 4.9 YPC. Buffalo passes to setup the run but the combination of having RBs that are actually good at it makes a huge difference as to how teams play us. It'll be important for Buffalo to come out running well early to keep defenses worried about the run game. Then they can easily switch to 3 or 4 WR's without changing personnel.
When thinking of our running backs going into this season I tend to think of them as our Swiss Army Knives. They need to be excellent pass blockers, rushers and WR's. The good thing is that both Jackson and Spiller are already really good at most of these things if not elite. It'll be up to Chan to make sure that the offense is centered around those 2 players which should help Fitz be more successful in the passing game.
So heading into the 2012 season I see our RBs to be the 2nd most vital piece to our offense behind the obvious QB. What do you guys think?