In the 2006 NFL draft the Houston Texans surprised a lot of people when they selected Mario Williams ahead of USC Trojans star Reggie Bush. Bush had a remarkable college career. One of the all-time greats (of course we know the aftermath of the USC sanctions, Bush just recently physically gave back his 2005 Heisman Trophy award). Bush was taken #2 overall, and spent 2006 through 2010 as a member of the New Orleans Saints.
Bush played in 60 games for the Saints, 41 of those were starts, but his production decreased annually in New Orleans. Bush was considered a legit receiving threat out of the backfield, but his catches regressed every year too. His final year with New Orleans was 2010 where he only played half the season, but still totaled just 1 TD (it was a receiving TD…Zero rushing TDs). In his 5 Saints seasons Bush averaged 846 yards from scrimmage, which is 71 yards per game (rushing & receiving). He averaged 6 TDs. He had a grand total of 1 game where he ran for over 100 yards.
A July 2011 trade brought Bush’s talents to South Beach. The first half-dozen games of his Miami Dolphins career were poor. Bush averaged under 40 yards rushing per game. He opened the season with a 9 catch performance vs the New England Patriots, but totaled just 8 catches for the next 5 games. Then came a week 8 date with the New York Giants (Bush’s only career 100-yard game was waaaay back in 2006 vs the Giants). For the first time in 2 calender years Bush took a hand-off and scored a TD. He totaled 103 rushing yards in that game and his second half surge was on.
Bush averaged 95 rushing yards in Miami’s final 9 games in 2011 (‘Phins went 6-3 during this stretch). 5 of those games Bush eclipsed 100 rushing yards, including his final 4 games. He had wanted to be an every-down RB, and he was finally showing he could do it. He finished the 2011 season with 1,000+ yards rushing for the first time in his career (he almost doubled his previous career high of 582 yards, and had a gaudy 5.0 yards per carry average)
At 6’0″ 205 Bush is built well. He has very good speed, and great vision. He wastes no time in attacking any hole he finds, and in open space he is at full speed within 2 steps. Despite being a speed burner he is not afraid to run between the tackles and fight for the tough yards too. Good footwork. He is athletic, and elusive. He is a legit threat to catch a pass out of the backfield. I actually hope that new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will game-plan Bush as a slot-WR in certain formations/packages. Bush’s skill-set as a WR vs a linebacker could be a major miss-match for the ‘Phins.
We saw very little playing time for Bush in the preseason as he is one of the only Dolphins who is clear about his role in 2012. He will get the ball…a lot. His work ethic is legendary, and this is a contract year for him. The free agent RB group in 2013 could be weak. Guys like Chris Ivory, Rashad Jennings, and Rashard Mendenhall are headlining the underwhelming group so despite his limited preseason action we should see a ready-and-determined Bush in 2012.
Was the second half of 2011 a fluke? Or a sign of things to come as Bush finally plays (consistently) to his potential? Only his rookie campaign saw Bush healthy for all 16 games so his durability will be monitored. We will be watching #22 very closely in 2012.
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