New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush A Big Part Of Teams Success

Sep 20, 2010; San Francisco, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush (25) during the Saints

RB Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers (source: yardbarker.com)

While most fans might not agree that the Saints are a better team with Bush than without the evidence is beginning to suggest they are indeed a better team with him.

Bush fractured his fibula while attempting to field a punt late in the Saints win over the San Francisco 49ers and was expected to miss 4 to 8 weeks.

Optimistically he may be back as early as week 7 though the more likely scenario is  a week 8 return when the Saints take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Superdome.

In his absence the Saints have gone 1-2 and by now their struggles have been well chronicled by those who cover the sport — 19.8 PPG, 31st in rushing, 45% third down conversion, 36.8% red zone efficiency — all stats far off their 2009 numbers and all stats Reggie Bush affects.

Bush has been criticized since entering the NFL after being hailed as the next great Hall of Fame running back on the heels of an illustrious collegiate career at USC for not producing the eye popping rushing statistics that everyone expected.

However Bush’s impact on the Saints stretches much farther into the offense than just pure rushing alone as evident by the stats above.

Head coach Sean Payton relies on Bush in red zone and third down situations rather heavily using him in multiple formations in an attempt to find as many mismatches as possible. His athleticism and speed makes him a match up nightmare for opposing defenses.

Just his presence on the field allows the other offensive players more opportunities to make plays as he can freeze linebackers, safeties and defensive ends dead in their tracks because they know if he is left unattended he has the ability to score.

Then there is his contribution on special teams where he has returned 84 punts for 678 yards and four touchdowns in his career. If opposing teams lose isolation on him for even a moment he can and will make people miss on his way to the end-zone.

A prime example of the Saints not being able to move the ball as easily with him nit in the lineup you need look no further than the last weeks loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

In several third down situations the Saints were unable to convert. Tight end Jeremy Shockey lined up wide, where Bush normally would be, but lacked the necessary athleticism to separate himself from the Cardinal defender resulting in a failed conversion and interception.

Ladell Betts was also put in during a third down situation to run a play the Saints are generally high percentage, a swing pass into the flat. Betts made the catch but was unable to beat safety Kerry Rhodes one on one and was dropped for no gain.

One could argue that if that would have been Bush and not Betts that he could have eluded Rhodes, picked up the first down and potentially scored given the play took place inside the twenty yard line.

Bush is a valuable commodity to the Saints offense wearing many hats and is successful in many different situations while on the field. It’s clear the Saints have struggled without him and given their recent play his reinsertion into the lineup cannot come soon enough.

Check out Keith Null’s weekly article about the Saints on NFL.com by clicking here.

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Topics: Jeremy Shockey, Ladell Betts, New Orleans Saints, Reggie Bush

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  • http://isportsweb.com/sport/nfl/new-orleans-saints/ realheavyd

    Very nice article Keith! I was very impressed indeed with this piece by you.

    I think that missing both Bush and Thomas at the same time right now is the biggest factor affecting the overall efficiency of this offense. No one is talking about this while they all keep asking “What’s wrong with the Saints’ offense?”. It makes perfect sense to me. Without both Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas in the backfield, the Saints have become too easily predictable in their play calling and therefore have a much more limited window of opportunity for open receivers or holes for runners to run through. Period.

    • Keith Null

      There is no question that what Reggie brings to the field cannot be duplicated but perhaps equally important is that Thomas has been sidelined the last few games. Simply put teams don’t respect the Saints run game without Bush and Thomas and now are not scared to drop more guys into coverage thus making it harder for the offense to get down field through the air. The signing of Julius Jones is an ominous sign that Pierre may be inline to miss more time than originally suspected. I think Jones was a good pickup and a definite improvement over DeShawn Wynn. Now hopefully we can get through the Buccaneers and Browns to come back with a healthy roster against the Steelers.

      • realheavyd (Derrick)

        Julius Jones has more of that special quality to make things happen in space and maybe that will bring back some of the effectiveness of the screen plays that have been missing without both Bush and Thomas these past couple weeks. He already knows Sean Payton’s offense from his time with him in Dallas and hopefully he can step right in an become a positive factor this weekend in Tampa for the Saints.

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  • thagratest1

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  • thagratest1

    Great Article.
    My Thing is, NOW everyone sees Bush has being so valuable when every other article was basically bashing him, calling him a bust, without understanding football, at all

    Me being a Bush fan since his Helix High School days..I have been very very disappointed with the Saints and how they have handled Bush. Yes, I am also very excited about them winning the Super Bowl. Back to Bush
    Reggie Bush has become the most under-utilized player in the history of the NFL. Here you have a 4.3 guy with quick feet, and probably the best hands out of the backfield of ANY running back limited in his action. How do you figure?
    Well, Bush has averaged a whopping 9.2 carries his ENTIRE NFL Career! Are you kidding me??
    What NFL running back can make a career out of 9.2 carries? Well lets see, If Chris Johnson averaged 9.2 carries, if Adrian Peterson averaged 9.2 carries, they would not be household names for sure. It is soo disappointing to see Bush being used the way he is. Yes Payton is a great signal caller, but is idea of using one of the most explosive players in the NFL is down right sickening.
    How can Bush remove the label of “Bust” and “Overrated” when he doesn’t have a opportunity? With Credit to Pierre Thomas, Bush is far more talented, and way more lethal. He creates opportunities for Colston, Shockey, Henderson, Moore and Brees, that is not so readily seen by the average person with a slight knowledge of the game. Bush changes schemes and he must always be accounted for.
    I have always lobbied for Bush to receive 17-20 carries a game 4 receptions, THEN you will see real greatness.
    One other note: I would like to see Bush in for a complete offensive series-3 downs consecutive. Taking Bush out after a 2 and 8 is ridiculous. Yes, The NFL has changed from the 1 super workhorse running back with 30- 35 rushes a game. But if you at least gave Bush 15 carries, you will see those big gaines.

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