I've owned a 2002 Ford Explorer for the last 10 years. At one point, this was my go-to vehicle to go anywhere, but times have changed. Since purchasing this car, I've gotten married and have had two children. A new van was purchased along the way and it's now our go-everywhere vehicle. My plan is to drive the Explorer into the ground, so to speak, and it probably doesn't have many years left. Rust continues to build on the frame and it gets louder by the year. My Ford Explorer has a special place in my heart as my first real vehicle, but now it's seldom used because it's past its prime. I know the vehicle is on its last legs and its time as a reliable option is gone.
My Ford Explorer and I have a lot in common with running back Fred Jackson and Buffalo Bills fans. Much like my Explorer has a special place in my heart, Jackson has a special place in theirs. Whereas I know my Explorer is past its prime, it seems that some Bills fans can't come to that conclusion with the running back.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Bills running backs have been in the news a lot lately. Jonathan Williams was arrested and charged with a DWI and Karlos Williams is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Suddenly, two backs who were expected to compete for a role behind LeSean McCoy have gotten into some hot water. We know Karlos Williams will miss the first four games of the season and Jonathan Williams could face a two-game suspension at some point this year.
Shortly after the Karlos Williams news broke yesterday, Bills legend Thurman Thomas sent out the following tweet.
Could this tweet have something to do with Jackson and the Bills? Of course. The timing of the tweet makes it seem that way, but for all we know Thomas wasn't talking about a reunion with the Bills.
Regardless of what Thomas' tweet meant, it led to a lot of people on social media talking about the Bills bringing Jackson back into the fold. Instead of moving forward, some want the Bills to go backwards. It's simply not the answer.
Last year, the Bills made the decision to release Jackson. It wasn't a popular choice, but it was the right choice if you watched Jackson play in 2015. Despite Marshawn Lynch only suiting up for seven games, Jackson struggled to get any carries in Seattle's backfield. He finished the season with 26 carries in 16 games. Part of the reason that Jackson didn't receive any carries after Lynch went down is due to the fact that the Seahawks went with Thomas Rawls, an undrafted free agent. Rawls looked the part but he wasn't the only back to get more carries than Jackson last year. Christine Michael, signed by the Seahawks in mid-December, carried the ball 39 times in three games with Seattle in the regular season. The Seahawks kept Jackson involved in the passing game, but they saw a back who was no longer dependable to run the ball.
Now, in mid-July, some Bills fans are clamoring for Jackson's return, but there's a reason he's gone unsigned in free agency. His time on the field has come and gone. Instead of looking to the past, Bills fans should look at other backs currently on Buffalo's roster.
James Wilder Jr. is a back who fits Karlos Williams' mold of being a between the tackles back. That's the type of player the Bills need and Wilder Jr. is only 24 years old. His best football is still ahead of him and he, Mike Gillislee, and Boom Herron all deserve a chance to prove themselves at training camp. If this trio struggles, then perhaps the Bills should bring in another back for competition. However, that back should not be Jackson. At this stage in his career, the only contract that Jackson should sign is a one-day deal to retire with the Bills.
Jackson was a fan favorite with the Bills and he did a lot of good on plenty of bad teams, but it's time to leave the past in the past.null