Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) tackles Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot
December 24, 2014

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) It's no secret to Fred Jackson that the Buffalo Bills have struggled running the ball this season.

Little did the veteran running back realize how historically bad the production has been. Jackson was taken aback when informed the Bills are in jeopardy of setting a franchise-low over a 16-game season heading into their final game at New England (12-3) on Sunday.

''Well, then let's make sure that doesn't happen,'' Jackson said.

It's a number that provides added incentive in a game Buffalo (8-7) has very little to play for after being eliminated from playoff contention following a 26-24 loss at Oakland last week.

''That's not something you want on your resume,'' he said.

The team's once-formidable ground attack has been slowed to a crawl.

With 1,378 yards rushing, the Bills are 174 yards short of matching the team's 16-game low of 1,552 yards in 2006. That won't be easy for an offense that hasn't topped 120 yards rushing since gaining 193 in its season-opener at Chicago.

This year's production is a significant drop-off for a Jackson- and C.J. Spiller-led backfield that finished second in the NFL last season with 2,307 yards rushing - the team's best output since 1992. Then there was two years ago, when Spiller had a career-best 1,244 yards and finished second in the NFL by averaging a more than 6 yards per carry.

''I don't have the answer as to what and why we haven't been able to run the ball the way that we are accustomed to,'' Jackson said. ''We're sitting here frustrated because we haven't lived up to what we thought we were capable of doing.''

The Bills ground game has been so bad that the team has not had an individual player reach 100 yards rushing so far this year. The Bills have gone an entire season without a 100-yard rusher only three times, the last in 1979.

And, Buffalo is coming off a game in which it managed 13 yards rushing - the fourth lowest total in team history.

Injuries have been an issue. Jackson missed two games with a groin injury and has also been bothered by a sore knee. Spiller broke his collarbone and missed seven games before returning last week.

Center Eric Wood said the offensive line hasn't done its part either.

''Really no excuses other than a lack of execution,'' Wood said. ''And a lot of that falls on us up front.''

Coach Doug Marrone is particularly disappointed by the play of his line. He is considering spending the offseason starting from scratch and retraining the unit.

Buffalo's running game could be in store for an offseason upheaval.

Though Jackson has one more year left on his contract, Spiller's future is uncertain. The Bills 2010 first-round draft pick is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent if he declines to pick up the option on the final year of his contract.

''Only time will tell,'' Spiller said, when asked if he's made a decision. ''I ain't really focusing on that. I'm just focusing on the Patriots.''

It's unclear what Spiller's value might be in free agency because of the time he missed this season.

Spiller discounted that as being a factor, saying he established his value in the previous four years.

NOTES: DT Marcell Dareus missed practice because of a right knee injury and it's uncertain whether he will play Sunday. ... CB Stephon Gilmore's status is also uncertain because he is being monitored for a concussion. ... The Bills are off Thursday before returning to practice Friday.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

You May Like