The Burning Bush Question

So now that we have all come down a little from the high that was Monday nights game I think it's time to address the elephant in the room. 

Reggie is coming back. 

But things have been going pretty smoothly without him. Reggie has missed the last four games. The Saints have now gone 3-1 in that four game span. I was actually planning on writing this post regardless, when I stumbled upon this article from The Sporting News. The article's author, Chris Mottram, is basically saying what some people may only be thinking...

But the Saints are a better team when Reggie isn’t participating.

Mottram admits that the 3-1 record without Bush and the 3-4 record with him is not the most complex of arguments but he elaborates. 

Yes, that’s an oversimplified way to make my argument, but if you saw the way the Saints played last night, you’d understand where they’re better sans Reggie. When they don’t feel obligated to get Bush his 10-20 touches, it allows Drew Brees the freedom to do what he does, which last night consisted of 20-of-26 for 323 yards with four TDs.

I'm not really sure what it is that makes the offense different but I can't help but agree. Don't get me wrong, I want Reggie on the field and playing for our team. I think the problem lies more in how Payton continues to use him. Regardless, when Reggie is healthy and out on the field everything just feels more...forced. It's a hard feeling to describe and I hope some of you out there know what I'm talking about. And you would think that the complete opposite would be true. 

I'm not sure the absence of Bush has made Brees any better though. Drew has been lights out pretty much all season. I think the difference lies more in who was getting the obligatory 10-20 touches in his place and how the offense changed without his presence. 

Whether you think Pierre Thomas is an every down back or not, I've got news for you: he already is. At least he has been for the last two games. And he's been doing a great job. Check out his stats the last two games. 

Date Opponent     No Yds Avg LG TD
11/16 @ Kansas City     16 88 5.5 16 1
11/24 Green Bay     15 87 5.8 31t 2

Check out the number of carries. That's about as close to a consistent, feature back performance as this pass happy Payton offense is going to see this year. Those are also the two best rushing performances for the Saints this season. But this isn't really about Pierre Thomas it's about the fact that the Saints have seemed to be more sucessful when they dedicate to the run with a single player. Pierre didn't do anything when the Saints defeated San Diego but Deuce carried the ball 18 times himself in the contest. The Saints victory over San Francisco? Deuce carried 20 times. In their recent loss to Atlanta sans Reggie Bush, the Saints had a total of 15 rushing attempts spread out among four different players. 

When Reggie is in action, instead of Pierre or Deuce getting 16-20 touches, they get 6 and Reggie gets the rest; about 10-12. But Reggie doesn't do as well with his carries. It's his receiving abilities, when he can get in open space, that makes him a threat. Reggie has averaged over 5 yards per carry once and that was only on nine carries, one of which was for 29 yards. When Reggie actually does play, he averages only 2.9 yards per carry when the Saints win. He averages 3.8 yards when they lose. That's not the way its supposed to work if you're a key component to the offense. However, Reggie averages nearly 10 yards a catch when the Saints win and only 8 when they lose. Now thats the way its supposed to work. He is much more valuable in a receiving role. 

So...is this offense better off without Reggie? Should Payton use Reggie just as he was before? Will Payton use Reggie just as he was before? If he does will it screw things up? If he doesn't how will he use him? How should he use him?

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