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Fred Jackson and His New Role
Welcome to DJ’s Chalk Talk: Offseason Week Five! This week we take a look at Fred Jackson’s role in the Bills offense.
With the emergence of C.J. Spiller last season, it look’s like Fred Jackson’s days as a starter in a Bills uniform are behind him. However, that doesn’t mean that he no longer brings value to this team.
At the age of 32, Jackson has a relatively fresh pair of legs when compared to other running backs his age. Unlike most running backs in the NFL Freddie’s age, he only has seven seasons of NFL games under his belt.
Jackson took the long road towards landing a roster spot with the Bills in 2006. The journeyman was an All-American running back at Division III Coe College, where he held most of his school’s rushing records. Jackson tried out for a few NFL teams in 2003 after he graduated from Coe College, but nothing came of it aside from being told he was too small to be a running back in the NFL.
That didn’t stop Freddie. Jackson took his talents to the Sioux City Bandits, an indoor league team, where he played for two years and then left for NFL Europa. He played for the Rhein Fire in 2006 before landing with an NFL team. The former All-American has since whittled his way up the depth chart to where he is now.
Jackson has taken a great sense of humbleness from his experiences and troubles trying to find his home in the NFL. This showed when the Coe College graduate went down with an injury last season and lost his starting spot to C.J. Ever since the two have split carries, which doesn’t seem to bother Jackson.
“If that’s what it is, us sharing reps, we have no problems with that,” Jackson said on the John Murphy Show in February. “I don’t have a problem with that. I’m looking forward going out there and making the best of my opportunities whenever I get on the field, I’m sure C.J.’s the same way. Whatever we can do to get a win, we’re going to do, that’s what we’re about.”
Jackson has set the example for other players on the Bills roster by being humble. Humbleness is a characteristic that players in the NFL sometimes forget, which can get them in trouble. It’s easy to forget who you are and how you got there when you have millions of dollars floated your way.
Jackson is also the oldest player on the Bills offense. As a seasoned vet on this squad, Jackson is an important player the younger players can turn to for answers. This offense is a young group, especially with E.J. Manuel and Robert Woods looking to lead the team and every squad needs as many reliable leaders on their roster as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson was elected the offensive captain during training camp.
Not only does Jackson bring the intangibles off the field of experience and humbleness, but the veteran running back still has plenty of gas left in the tank to be effective in this league. I know this is a video game, but in last year’s Madden Jackson had an overall rating of 89. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who is over 30.
Outside of the virtual world, when healthy Jackson put up relatively good numbers last season averaging close to four yards a carry. No, that’s not Spiller or Adrian Peterson numbers but it’s still pretty good. When looking at Jackson’s statistics from last season, it’s almost funny because the more carries he got per game, the veteran’s average rush per carry improved. This shows that a healthy Jackson is a durable Jackson because he plays better as the game wears on.
In Week 13 at Jacksonville, the Bills running back had 25 carries for 105 yards; an average of 4.4 yards per carry. That is an impressive stat line in a game that involves a heavy load on Jackson’s legs. An example like that or Week 10 at New England (16 carries for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns) provides optimism that when healthy, the journeyman can do it all over again in 2013.
Sure the chances are good Fred Jackson does not receive the bulk of the carries this season, but he is a good running back. He can run between the tackles, block on third down, and catch the ball effectively out of the backfield. When it’s all said and done, this is one player that the Buffalo Bills are lucky to have in their locker room.