Thursday, September 19, 2013
Jets readying for C.J. Spiller
By Matt Ehalt
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan may be looking forward to facing rookie quarterback EJ Manuel on Sunday, but there's another Bill who may cause his team more problems: running back C.J. Spiller.
Spiller sliced and diced the Jets for a combined 325 yards in the two meetings last year, and the Jets will have to find a way to slow him down when the Bills visit MetLife Stadium.
"He can take the football and put it in the end zone from anywhere on the field," Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. "He's dynamic, he's fast, he's explosive, and you have to pay attention to him."
In last year's opener, a 48-28 Jets win, Spiller rushed 14 times for 169 yards (12.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown and caught two passes for 25 yards. The 169 yards are Spiller's career high, and the 194 combined rushing and passing yards are also his career best.
Spiller didn't have as much success in the second game, but he still rushed for 59 yards and caught two passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's 28-9 win. Spiller averaged 7.7 yards per touch last year on 42 touches against the Jets.
"We got to tackle; I think that's the biggest thing," Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. "I think he had more than 150 yards on us in the first game of the year, and we didn't do a great job of tackling. That's one thing we have to do. We have to make sure we do a great job of tackling their running backs because C.J. and Fred Jackson can give us some problems."
Several Jets mentioned Spiller's breakaway speed as one of the main reasons he's such a difficult running back to face. The Bills use Spiller in the passing game to get him into open space and will even line him up out wide to create mismatches.
The Jets are confident they have enough speed to match up.
"He's probably one of the faster backs in the league, so you have to be able to contain him," Jets linebacker DeMario Davis said. "We have a lot of speed on defense, so I think if we go out and do what we're coached to do, we'll be able to contain him."
Added linebacker Antwan Barnes: "We got guys that can cover him [out wide]."
The Jets have been stingy thus far against the run, as they have held the Buccaneers and Patriots in check. Tampa Bay's Doug Martin averaged just 2.7 yards per carry in the opener, while New England's Stevan Ridley rushed for 40 yards. The Jets rank fifth in the league by allowing just 59.5 rushing yards per game.
"We've been able to get lined up and do our jobs," Davis said. "The coaches put in great game plans. Any time we're able to get lined up and do what our coaches ask us, we're going to be OK."