Fred Jackson was released by the Buffalo Bills this week, but it remains unclear who in the franchise ultimately made that decision. In fact, there are reports that Bills general manager Doug Whaley went rogue in cutting Jackson, who had been with the team since 2006.
“I doubt that,” former Bills All-Pro and current NFL on CBS analyst Steve Tasker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think this was Rex Ryan in the fold and the writing was on the wall a little bit early. Fred Jackson is a 34-year-old running back (and) had a little trouble staying healthy. Make no mistake, though: He was beloved not only by the players and the fans, but also by the front office. They really appreciated everything that Fred had done for the organization. But they got to a point where a young player like Karlos Williams comes into the fold and is playing very well. Fred was off the roster and injured for the first three or four weeks of training camp, got in last week, got healthy. He doesn’t play special teams. LeSean McCoy will be the lead back, and when you get down to it, they released a 34-year-old running back who had a little bit of trouble staying healthy and who couldn’t help you on special teams. That made a lot of sense until you realized, ‘Man, that was Fred Jackson,’ and you realized all the other stuff that he brings to the table and it makes it a harder decision. But I think the writing was on the wall for a long time with Fred because of his health.”
While Bills fans were sad to see Jackson go, they’ve already fallen in love with Rex Ryan and his staff.
“It’s hard to imagine a group of coaches or coaching staff being more embraced by a community than Rex Ryan has for Buffalo,” Tasker said. “I mean, the fans up in Buffalo, they want their coaches and players to want to like Buffalo. They want them to appreciate this region like they do. And of course, Rex is all about that. He is all-in all the time. And the fans have really responded to that. They’ve sold a club record of season tickets – and that even goes back to the four-year Super Bowl run 20 years ago. They sold 60,000 season tickets this year. Everyone is on board, and the expectations are sky high.”
Perhaps those expectations should be tempered just a bit. After all, the Bills’ starting quarterback will be Tyrod Taylor, who has thrown just 35 passes in the NFL. In fact, Taylor is yet to throw a touchdown in his NFL career, which spans 14 games over four seasons in Baltimore.
Nevertheless, Bills fans believe the Virginia Tech product can be special. So does Tasker.
“I think Tyrod is the real deal,” he said. “I think he’s got a live arm. One of the question marks, as always with a mobile quarterback, is can he beat you from the pocket? In this last preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he did exactly that. He had one run, a 20-yarder which turned into a touchdown. Other than that, he beat the preseason Steeler defense from the pocket and looked very good doing it. In fact, the surprising thing about this preseason for the Buffalo Bills is coming into it, nobody thought the Bills had any quarterbacks and Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, and David Lee, the quarterbacks coach, have got all four guys – from Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor through E.J. Manuel and also Matt Simms – (playing at a high level). I’ve never seen a roster of four quarterbacks like this in the preseason all play as well as the Bills have, so you got to tip your hat to the coaching staff for at least getting those guys off to a good start.”