Will Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush Be As Dynamic as Carolina’s Williams And Stewart in ’09?
Last season the duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart carried the the Panthers to a 12-4 season, a playoff appearance, and their best year since 1996.
The potent combination totaled 2,351 yards on the ground and 28 touchdowns, tops in the NFL in 2008, and a headache for Saints fans everywhere.
In comparison Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas combined for 1,029 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns, a far cry from some of the leagues marquee runningbacks.
A two back system is becoming more and more and prominent in today’s NFL. Several teams have employed the “runningback by committee” approach with success, the Chargers with L.T. and Sproles, the Giants with Jacobs and Bradshaw, and the Cowboys with Barber and Jones, just to name a few.
Much of the Saints downfall last season came on the failure of its running game. They struggled in short yard situations as well as goal line stands, costing them several close contests.
Bush failed to find his rhythm for the second straight season, not eclipsing the 600 yard mark. He flashed a glimpse of the phenomenal player he could be, but lacked the consistency needed to run between the tackles successfully in the NFL.
Thomas emerged as a stand out runningback late in the year, taking everyone by surprise with his running ability and field vision. It was just too little too late as he was used too sparingly at the start of the season to help the Saints run game early on.
Will 2009 be the year that they bring it all together and perform more like the Williams-Stewart duo?
It looks like that may be the case as Reggie’s recent split with girlfriend Kim Kardashian will allow him to focus more on his run game, and less on the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star.
This is a make or break season for Bush as he has failed to produce the numbers that are equal to his talent. He has the speed and elusiveness to be great, more so than Williams, but he has to put the pieces together to prove that he can hang with the elite.
Thomas will no longer be buried on the depth chart behind McAllister and Stecker— he will start from day one. He proved last year that he can be a successful runningback, and with a full 16 game season should post monster stats. Its reported that Thomas has added 10-15 lbs of muscle in an effort to be the Saints short yardage/goal line back, a la Stewart.
The Saints have pinned all their hopes on re-vamping the run game on Bush and Thomas. Assuming they can stay healthy and perform well they can and will be better than most of the runningback tandems in the league, including Williams and Stewart.
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