Two months ago, Mike Gillislee was cut from the Cardinals’ practice squad, and that easily could have been the end of his NFL career. A 2013 fifth-round pick of the Dolphins, he had been cut by Miami in September and then cut by Arizona in October. When you’re cut twice in two months, sometimes that’s the end.
But in November, when the Bills had a rash of running back injuries, they gave Gillislee a call. And all he’s done since then is put together one of the most spectacular performances of any player in the entire league over the last three weeks.
In Week 14 against the Eagles, Gillislee had three carries, and one of them was a 19-yard touchdown. In Week 15 against Washington, Gillislee had four carries, and one of them was a 60-yard touchdown. In Week 16 against the Cowboys, Gillislee had nine carries, and one of them was a 50-yard touchdown. Gillislee has 23 carries for 239 yards this season, an average of 10.4 yards a carry. If he keeps this up on Sunday against the Jets, he’ll be the first player in NFL history to finish a season with more than 20 carries and an average of more than 10 yards a carry.
Gillislee said he was never down on himself, even when he was cut and out of work, and he figured he’d play well if ever given the chance.
“I’ve always had this confidence, it was the matter of opportunity and the Bills gave me a hell of an opportunity,” Gillislee said. “I’m taking advantage of it.”
With both Gillislee and rookie Karlos Williams playing very well behind LeSean McCoy on the depth chart, the Bills now have an embarrassment of riches at running back. The Bills’ defense has been a huge disappointment in Rex Ryan’s first season in Buffalo, but there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Bills’ offense.