Bills running back Fred Jackson has been overlooked for a long time. In a sense, the former undrafted free agent out of little Coe College represents what the Buffalo Bills are all about. A 4-12 team from a year ago, Buffalo is turning heads with players on the offensive side of the ball that have had to scratch and claw for every headline they have ever gotten. Their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has bounced around the league and was never given a shot in his previous two stops after being a seventh round draft pick in 2005. Star wide receiver Steve Johnson, a seventh round pick himself, had a breakout season last year and has continued what he started. Yet there is no better story in Buffalo than Fred Jackson.
After going undrafted in 2003, Jackson played in two separate Indoor Football Leagues and then with the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe before he finally got his first shot in Buffalo. Even after getting his chance, Jackson still looked like he was going to be an afterthought in Buffalo. Despite his first ever 1,000 yard season in 2009, the Bills drafted the electric C.J. Spiller with the 9th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Yet here it is two years later and Fred Jackson remains the lead back for the Bills. Not only has he held off the exciting running back from Clemson, but he is leading the NFL in rushing through two weeks and is a huge reason why the Bills are sitting at 2-0 and why they are the most surprising team in the NFL early on. Overlooked for a number of years, Fred Jackson is making everyone around the NFL take notice and will have another chance to shine under the bright lights as the New England Patriots to come Buffalo this weekend to try and knock the Bills from the reigns of the unbeaten on Sunday.
Fred Jackson joined WGR in Buffalo with the Howard Simon Show to talk about the 2-0 start this season, New England coming to town with their high-powered offense, what the key is to the outstanding play of the offense, what has changed for Ryan Fitzpatrick this year compared to in the past, if he feels like the Bills are a bit intimidated by the Patriots, and what the latest is with his contract negotiations.
On the 2-0 start to the season:
“It’s been exciting. You go out and get two good wins, put up a lot of points, our defense is playing well, some people are gonna take notice. As a team, we still know that we have a lot of work to do and it’s still early in the season so we’ve gotta continue to work, move forward, and things like that.”
On New England’s offense and if he feels like they can keep up:
“Oh yeah. We feel like we can score with the best of them. They have a high-powered offense coming in here, but we have a lot of faith in our defense. We feel like our defense is much improved and they will be able to get stops against New England. It’s our job as an offense to put up some points. It’s a great challenge for us, they’re a great team, we know what they’re about, we know they have great coaching over there, and we just have to come out and play our game and we feel like we will be okay.”
If the offensive line has been the biggest key to the offensive success:
“You hit it right on the head. Our offensive line is playing tremendous. They have done a great job protecting Fitz, keeping him on his seat. If we can keep Fitz on his seat he’s gonna be able to read defenses and pick them apart and knows where he wants to go with the ball. That comes down to us as running backs, seeing blitzes, the offensive line getting on the right guy, Fitz putting everybody in the right spot, knowing what a hot route is when they do bring a blitz that we can’t pick up, and they have done a great job of blocking for me as well. As long as they keep doing that, they keep playing well, we think we’ll be doing a great job on offense.”
On Ryan Fitzpatrick taking control of the offense:
“Without a doubt. He knows the offense now. Anytime you get comfortable in an offense it allows you to go out and make plays. I think that’s what it is. He’s a smart guy and now I think he has the offense figured out. He knows what Chan is wanting to do. That allows him to just go out there play football and be confident. When you get that okay that you’re gonna be the guy this year it allows you to go out and prepare like that. He’s taking full advantage of it, he’s relishing the opportunity, living the moment, and making some great plays for us.”
If they are intimidated by the Patriots:
“Not at all. This is a very confident locker room and we feel like we can compete with anybody. Everybody in that locker room is relishing the challenge and looking forward to it. We know they are a great football team but we feel like we’re just as good as they are. We’re looking forward to that opportunity, it’s a great opportunity for us to make some noise, and the number one thing is to get to 3-0. Win the division game. It’s not gonna make or break us when we win or lose this game. Our goal is to get to 3-0, be 1-0 in the division, and we will take it from there.”
On his contract negotiations:
“It hasn’t gone the way we hoped it would go. We approached them and it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. That’s just part of it. I will continue to do what I do on the football field and hopefully something gets taken care of this year. My agent is doing the best to talk to them to see what happens. You know me, I will continue to come, I will continue to show up, and I will continue to play football because that’s what I’m here to do.”