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‘Jets-Style Ball’ Needed vs. Spiller/Jackson

Posted Sep 19, 2013

With running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller ready to roll into East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, our defense will have to be as tough — and fast — as ever.

“They’re both very capable backs,” S Dawan Landry said. “C.J. is the lightning bolt of that offense. Fred Jackson’s a high-powered running back. Like Coach Ryan said, they’re a two-headed monster.”

If Spiller is lightning, that means Jackson is thunder. The combination of sizzling speed and pounding power makes this duo extra effective.

“They complement each other very well,” DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison said. “You can’t arm-tackle, because these guys run right through that. We’ll have to rally together to make a tackle. If not, it’ll be a long day.”

Through two games, it’s felt like a long day for the opposing teams’ backs, as the Jets defense has been phenomenal. For as good as our rush defense has been, though, the Bills’ rush offense has been equally impressive.

Our 59.5 yards allowed per game ranks fourth in the NFL; their 142.5 yards gained per game on the ground also ranks fourth in the league. Something has to give.

“C.J. Spiller uses his speed to get around the edge,” S Jaiquawn Jarrett said. “We have to do our job as a defense and make sure that we know our assignments, we’re in the right position, and we make the plays.”

However, stopping Jackson and Spiller isn’t as simple as stopping the running game. As LB Demario Davis pointed out, “They have a lot of ways to get those guys the ball.”

That observation can’t be understated. For instance, while the Jets "D" held Spiller to 59 yards on 24 carries in last year’s season finale, the fourth-year Clemson product added a 66-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass. That long reception, along with a 56-yard TD run in the 2012 season opener, made Spiller the first opponent to have two plays from scrimmage of 50 yards or longer against us in the same season since Giants WR Amani Toomer in 1999.

“Up to this point, I would say Spiller’s probably the fastest back that we’ve played,” Davis said, “but I think we have a lot of fast guys who can get to him and take him down.” One of those guys, of course, will be Demario himself, and he’s no slowpoke — just ask Vincent Jackson and the Buccaneers.

While the LBs and DBs could be chasing down Spiller throughout Sunday, the D-line will be absorbing the blows dealt by Jackson.

Snacks can’t wait.

“The power-running teams want to run straight at you, and I love the contact,” the 6’4”, 350-pound DT said. “If I don’t have to move that far, I’m all for it.”

There will be a strong emphasis on stopping Spiller, Jackson and the run game, but the defensive backs have to find a balance between aggressively pursuing the backs and avoiding getting burned on a play-action pass.

“You have to play it honest,” Landry said. “You can’t get suckered into ‘they’re running the ball, they’re running the ball,’ because [QB EJ Manuel] can throw the ball, and he will throw the ball.”

Whether the Bills come out with Jackson the bruiser or Spiller the blazer, the key to success will be playing “Jets-style football,” Landry said, “Assert ourselves early, establish that we’re here to play the game, and just take it from there.”
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