Player Spotlight - RB Reggie Bush, Miami
By Stephen Holloway
July 17th, 2012

Reggie Bush had a career year in 2011 with the Dolphins after generally disappointing with the Saints in his first five NFL seasons. There was a ton of hype surrounding Bush as the 2006 draft approached, and the Saints were excited to get him at No. 2 overall after the Texans made Mario Williams the No. 1 pick. It was the first ever draft selection by newly hired coach Sean Payton only a month after the Saints signed quarterback Drew Brees in free agency.

Even though Bush received many opportunities with the Saints, he never lived up to the expectations of his lofty draft pick or his rookie contract. His five seasons with the Saints produced the following mostly mediocre stats.

Year
Games
Rushes
RushYds
YPC
TDs
Rec
RecYds
TDs
TotalYds
2006
16
155
565
3.6
6
88
742
2
1,307
2007
12
157
581
3.7
4
73
417
2
998
2008
10
106
404
3.8
2
52
440
4
844
2009
14
70
390
5.6
5
47
335
3
725
2010
8
36
150
4.2
0
34
208
1
358
Total
60
524
2,090
4.0
17
294
2,142
12
4,322

His production saw a steady overall decline after a promising rookie season where he totaled 1,307 total yards from scrimmage and 8 TDs. With Bush due $11.8 million in the last year of his rookie contract, the Saints preferred trading him to the Dolphins for reserve safety Jonathan Amaya and a swap of sixth-round draft picks - essentially nothing.

In 2011, with the Dolphins, Bush had his best season yet playing in a running back by committee (RBBC) with rookie Daniel Thomas, who was drafted in the second round. Thomas began the season getting more carries than Bush, but injuries and the fact that Bush outplayed him reversed their roles by the end of the season. Bush gained 100+ yards rushing in four straight games (Weeks 13 through 16) before missing the final game of the season with a knee injury. On the season he delivered in a variety of ways:

  • His first 1,000-yard rushing season on a career best 216 carries

  • Tallying a career high 1,382 yards from scrimmage

  • Making 15 starts after never starting more than 10 games in a season previously

  • Delivering an elite 5.0 yards per rush average

  • Proving his critics wrong by averaging 21 carries and (6.25 yards per carry) in his final four games when he no longer had to share time

  • Scoring seven touchdowns in in spite of the Dolphins struggling to consistently drive into the red zone with a lackluster passing attack
  • Looking Forward to 2012

    The Miami Dolphins have a completely new coaching staff. Joe Philbin replaces interim head coach Todd Bowles, who replaced Tony Sparano in mid-season a year ago. The new offensive coordinator is Mike Sherman, who was fired by Texas A&M, prior to their move to the Southeastern Conference this year. Sherman gave Philbin his first NFL opportunity when he was the head coach of the Packers and receives payback here.

    The Dolphins are expected to run an up-tempo version of the West Coast offense that has a primary goal of creating mismatches against less prepared defenses. Footballguys.com offensive line guru Matt Bitonti ranks the Dolphin's offensive line as the 12th-best in the league. The line's strength is on the left side led by tackle Jake Long, center Mike Pouncey, and tough minded guard Richie Incognito. This group provides much better run blocking than pass protection. One of the keys for the Dolphins will be how well the offensive line handles the transition to an up-tempo style and, in turn, their ability to protect the quarterback. The offense overall is expected to be less productive, primarily based on the system change, the quarterback play, and the lack of receiving options.

    The starting wide receivers will probably be Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, with Anthony Fasano starting at tight end. Bess has had a couple of 70-catch seasons in his career, but he is really more suited to the slot and averages only 10.2 yards per catch for his career. Neither Hartline nor Fasano has ever caught 45 passes in a season. This group will need to far exceed their prior career bests to generate much hope for a productive Dolphins passing attack.

    Positives

  • Bush is coming off his best season, gaining 1,382 yards from scrimmage

  • He finally seemed to show patience at the line of scrimmage, taking what yardage was there, particularly up the middle

  • Bush is inarguably the Dolphins most explosive weapon, and the new offensive coaches have little choice but to get him the ball in any way they can

  • With an average draft position of RB19 in PPR leagues and RB20 in non-PPR, all Bush needs to do is match last year's tally (RB13) to deliver significant value
  • Negatives

  • The Dolphins drafted another running back in 2012 - Lamar Miller - and now have three potential RBBC members including Bush and Daniel Thomas

  • The offensive line is strong in the running game but will face adjustments with the changes required by the up-tempo West Coast offensive plan

  • Opposing defenses will likely not respect the passing game and load up eight in the box to stuff the running game and harass the Dolphins quarterbacks

  • A potential delay in settling on the starting quarterback as the Dolphins try to determine whether rookie Ryan Tannehill is ready to start immediately or if veterans Matt Moore or David Garrard provide a better alternative
  • Final Thoughts

    Despite the fact that the Dolphins will likely employ a three-man committee with Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, and Lamar Miller, Bush will have ample opportunities, particularly in the passing game. His skills are perfectly suited to Joe Philbin's offensive system. The RBBC will limit Bush's rushing opportunities, however, and his stated goal of winning the rushing title is his personal version of dreaming the impossible dream. However, the offensive system will increase his role in the passing game, primarily because of the Dolphins' lack of viable receiving options on the outside.

    Bush could very well be spread out wide on occasion and motioned frequently out of the backfield. He is one of the few players capable of creating the mismatches that are the hallmark of Philbin and Sherman's playbook. Bush has a chance to lead all NFL running backs in receptions this year if things work out well for the Dolphins. Remember, Bush grabbed 88 passes as a rookie in New Orleans.

    Stephen Holloway's Projections for Reggie Bush

  • 150 rushing attempts
  • 705 rushing yards
  • 4.7 yards per rush
  • 3 rushing touchdowns
  • 100 targets
  • 65 receptions
  • 488 receiving yards
  • 7.5 yards per reception
  • 2 receiving touchdowns
  • 1,193 total yards from scrimmage
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