My defense of Bush
Here’s my defense of Reggie Bush and why I think he is better than people are giving him credit for. There are a few things I want to address here so gird yourself for a long read.
Bush is averaging around 11 carries a game. Hardly enough for a "feature back" to get in a groove or do anything consistently. Some of you may say PT is getting less than that and doing fine. We will discuss that later. But lets look at the games where Bush was doing his thing and averaged above 4 yards per carry.
18 carries 73 yards 4.1ypc
That’s 8 carries over his average but guess what 11 of those came in the first half. That’s already his season average. That’s about what the usual "feature back" gets for a first half.
9 carries 55 yards 6.1ypc
We all know Bush went out early in the third quarter didn’t see a snap, so this was in the first half. Again this is what the prototypical star back does in a game usually. And as I looked at the play by play he was allowed to get into a rhythm.
But now lets look at two of his "abysmal" games, not counting the last one unless you’re just a Bush hater and don’t want to give him the benefit of the doubt considering he really didn’t play much second half and was coming back from an injury.
14 carries 27 yards 1.9ypc
The first half alone he gets 9 carries and only gets 20 yards. Weak!!! But in the second half he gets only 7 yards off of 5 carries. We stopped running the ball and we killed the Raiders. Sure he didn’t do too good but here’s the thing. During so many games I’ll be watching and looking at the ticker and see "A. Peterson 10 carries 33 yards". By the end of the third quarter what do I see. 21 carries for 103 yards. Which told me they kept running him and he finally broke for a big one. But before I transition lets look at another game. Let’s go to the first game.
Bush gets 7 carries in first half for 8 yards. PT gets a few carries and does great with what he gets. However, I looked at some video and I couldn’t tell who (cause I’m at work and the video quality isn’t that great) but noticed on the play in the third quarter when Devery Henderson caught the deep ball on a play action, a safety came in when Bush was in the backfield. On the screen pass that Bush scored on the free safety was spying on him and if it weren’t for a great block would have had him. Noticed this on a few plays. This didn’t happen with Pierre. Which leads me to my next point…
Defenses Plan for Bush
Check this quote out:
Coach Mike Nolan said this morning that his defense will have to play a game of "Where’s Reggie?" before every snap.
"I think it’s important right now to find out where he is on every play," Nolan said. "What we treat him as is kind of irrelevant.
"Everybody has to know where he is at all times because he does line up in the backfield, he lines up strong side, weak side and he’s very active in the offense."
Treat this quote as an anecdote for what every coach is planning for #25 every game. Are coaches just ignoring whoever else is back there? No, but we have to remember Bush is probably the most highly touted college player ever. Those USC highlights are in coaches and players minds. And he’s shown some explosiveness in the NFL. So PT, Deuce, or Stecker aren’t going to get that type of attention. So when PT is in there to spell of course he’s going to get 7 yards when we pass all the time and the guy who was shadowing Bush can relax—a little of course. If you have safeties spying you all game and your offensive line isn’t the greatest what can you expect? Look at what we did to Adrian Peterson. We put 8 in a box, which happens to Reggie a lot, and we stopped him. But he has a superior line and now with a better quarterback, he’s still killing teams. Anybody see what happened to Davidson when Loyola literally double-teamed Stephen Curry all game last week? He didn’t do squat. But his teammates did and they still won. This is Reggie Bush’s dilemma. They didn’t double-team anyone else and two guards off the bench both scored double figures as they routed Loyola by 30 points. I see Pierre as those guys off the bench.
Reggie vs. Pierre
So the backup running back is averaging more yards per carry than the star huh? The Saints were 3-1 in games with him and without Bush. So he must be a better back. Well, not so fast. He’s been doing great against teams like Green Bay and Kansas City. But what are those teams’ stats like against the run? Uh huh. The whole 3-1 without Bush stat is a mirage. People don’t look at the games where Bush kept us in it against far better teams. And even won it for us against Tampa. Or at who we’ve played in those games (weak teams we’re supposed to beat) versus the teams we’ve almost beat with him. But Thomas should be starting? What about last game? He didn’t get the ball enough huh? Yeah sure, every time I use the not enough carries to get a rhythm excuse for Bush people overlook it or knock it. But it’s legitimate. I aint knocking Pierre. I think he’s solid. But when he finally gets the bulk of the carries against a solid team, that’s not putting 8 in the box or spying him, he gets 11 carries for 33 yards. He had a reception for 20 yards that brought a TD. A very Bush-like game to me. But we give him a pass for some reason. Must be the rose-colored glasses some of us choose to look at him through Which leads me to my final reason for why Bush isn’t living up to the hype, so to speak.
Pass Happy Coach
Payton passes way too much. But of course how do you think Brees is doing this with these stellar receivers. Wouldn’t defenses be ready for it? Well there’s a little distraction in the backfield. Call him a decoy, a bust or a star. Coaches call him dangerous and plan for him as such. Screw what fans say. Coaches take Bush serious and when that happens with a coach like Payton. Pass, Pass, Pass. I think he tries to pass to run. Which is unconventional but could work if he did it right. Last game he used a few delays and draws with Thomas that worked and with Payton’s style of offense it usually does. But when he runs he does it in a way that’s so obvious. I think defenses know that in the first quarter maybe even second he’ll attempt to run at the conventional times--first and second down. And so they stack the box or spy Bush who they usually have running out of the I or singleback formation—hence no fullback to block. Later he abandons it till he basically passes out (pun intended). What running back who has things being said, like what Nolan said, is going to excel with an offensive line that is as untrained as the Saints? Not Bush. I don’t care who you put back there, as far as stars go. LT, AP or Michael Turner they would not succeed behind a pass happy coach with a sub par line.
Take away his TD’s and yards and the Saints are in a far worse position than they are now. Trade him and watch him live up to his potential on a team with a far superior line and you better hope it’s not a team in the NFC south, that would really make us sick and as much as it would bother me I’d be happy for him. As redundant as it sounds, we still don’t know what Bush could do. He’s not in a system that uses him just right. How much practice do you think is really devoted to running the ball when we pass as much as we do. Don’t forget the games where Deuce got a bulk of carries and he didn’t get 4 yards per carry. Let’s look at all the factors here, not just our emotions. Sure, I joke about being his apologist but I also watch film and study the Saints. No back is going to excel when as soon as he gets the ball there are two linemen in his grill. Nobody! Who Dat!