Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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22 Aug 2008

The Bush Debate

compiled by Vince Verhei

It started as a simple question on the Football Outsiders mailing list: What is Reggie Bush's Speed Score? It developed into a long discussion of one of the NFL's most enigmatic talents. How good is Bush as an NFL player, as opposed to just an athlete? Are the Saints using him right? Will his numbers improve in 2008? We decided to share the conversation with you, the Football Outsiders readers.

William Carroll: What's Reggie Bush's Speed Score, if we know it?

Doug Farrar: He ran a 4.37 at his Pro Day on April 2, 2006, per NFLDraftScout.com.

William Carroll: YouTube begs to differ. If my math is right and using his PFP08 weight, his score is 113.8 -- which, like Bush, is somewhat mediocre.

Aaron Schatz: The official Speed Scores only include Combine times, so if Bush ran on his Pro Day, he would not be listed in Pro Football Prospectus 2008. 113.8 is not mediocre at all. It's the second-highest of the draft class:

Addai: 114.2
Norwood: 112.0
Jones-Drew: 111.5
Washington: 105.3
Daniels: 92.3
Calhoun: 92.2

Bill Barnwell: I'm just not comfortable with Pro Day data, so I only used Combine times. 113.8 is good, but it's not elite. The average for all first-rounders is 112.

William Carroll: Mediocre in the overall scheme, then, and I think if you'd asked most casual fans, they'd think he'd put up a 150 or so. Bush is fast, but he's not THAT much faster than the NFL norm. To me, his skill was always being a step or two faster than everyone else. Now that he's not, he's not that good.

Aaron Schatz: Nobody is at 150. In fact, nobody has ever reached 125. Bush is fast. Really.

Bill Barnwell: I don't know about him being/not being a step or two faster than everyone else, but I know that he doesn't (yet) have the mix of speed to blow by people WITH the size and strength to go through them -- that's what Speed Score measures. Bush is agile enough that running 40 yards in a straight line does underestimate his speed.

On the other hand, he wasn't even that much of a blazer in high school, so I think maybe he isn't THAT fast.

Patrick Laverty: Those results are from his junior year. Was he state champ as a senior?

Bill Barnwell: "He also competed in track at Helix, placing third in the 2002 California state 100 meters final and posting bests of 10.42 in the 100 (the fastest prep time in California in 2002 and the fastest among the nation's 2002 senior footballers) and 21.06 in the 200 meters (third fastest prep in California in 2002). He placed second in the boys' 50-meter dash in 5.85 at the 2003 Los Angeles Invitational Indoor Meet."

Being the third-fastest high school senior in California is pretty impressive, actually.

Remember, though -- the reason Speed Score has the weight quotient in it (and exists altogether) is because size matters. If you're 5-foot-8, 180 pounds and you run a 4.33 40, it's going to be easier to bring you down and prevent you from getting out into the open field.

William Carroll: His high school films are just nuts. Tecmo Bowl Bo didn't look as good, but I would think that would be the case for a lot of guys, especially the speed ones.

I'm not saying he's not fast, just that he's not THAT MUCH faster than everyone else and that his one big advantage was that one step he seemed to have on everyone. He's like a baseball pitcher who is used to being able to throw his fastball by anyone and suddenly realizing that it's not just Albert Pujols that's good enough to get around on him, it's David Eckstein.

Bill Barnwell: That's Chris Johnson. Reggie Bush is more the guy with the plus-plus (always wanted to say that) fastball who's having his breaking stuff laid off of now.

Michael Tanier: Anybody who scouts the kid knows that:

A) He's fast enough to outrun just about anyone short of an Antonio Cromartie in the open field;

B) He's got moves that rank somewhere between Dave Meggett and Barry Sanders;

C) That he is still developing the run instincts to know when to dance and when to find holes.

The guy turned 23 in March. He is still developing. I know we assume running backs leave college as near-finished products, but the nifty-shifty guys really don't. They need to learn how to harness that ability and when to take what the defense offers. A lot of them are very inconsistent and not real durable early in their careers.

When I think of the Saints offense last year, I think of Bush getting force fed a lot of swing passes with two defenders chasing him into the flat. Payton is a creative coach, but I think he got carried away with the horizontal passes. Bush, for his part, regressed and seemed to go for the 200-yard touchdown on every play.

Bottom line is that I would be very careful to classify Bush as "mediocre" or some kind of bust. Even calling him overrated ... I know what the anouncers say, but most smart fans have figured out that the guy hasn't produced much yet. He's still a unique athlete with amazing skills and potential. He might turn into one of those guys who DVOA and DYAR have trouble with.

To finish Barnwell's analogy, he's a guy who throws so damn hard that he can keep a job even when he's inconsistent, and if the breaking pitch reaches above average levels, he's an ace and an All-Star. And unlike baseball pitchers, nifty backs have a pretty good record mastering the breaking pitch (Tiki Barber, Brian Westbrook, Warrick Dunn).

Bill Barnwell: The thing is, though, how long does Bush have to learn and harness those skills? And is he ever going to develop the level of durability and ability to run the ball consistently to be a viable starter? He hasn't in two years, and honestly, it doesn't matter how fast you are, your No. 2 overall picks need to be starting by year 3.

Doug Farrar: I said in the book comment this year that he needs to be thought of more as a player who can do different and specific things than an absolute position, and I still believe that. People need to focus more on what he is. There's already been more than enough about what he isn't.

Michael Tanier: I agree with Doug. And really, Bush is starting: He's a starting part-time halfback, part-time slot guy. He gets to be one of those criticism lightning rods sometimes. He had 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 12 games last season. This isn't some epic bust. And check his rookie year: The receiving DVOA says he was pretty darn good.

Bill Barnwell: I'm certainly not saying he's an epic bust. But it's not like he's emerged as some kind of elite player or looks like he's about to. Comparisons to Sanders (not that you were saying that, but that was the kind of athlete he was billed as coming out of school) seem silly -- Sanders was averaging 5-plus yards per carry his first two years; Bush hasn't even cracked 4 yet.

Recieving DVOA also doesn't really account for the fact that he's lining up in the slot more than virtually any other back, no? His baselines for success are totally different.

Mike Tanier: Westbrook's receiving DVOA doesn't account for his time in the slot, either. Or Kevin Faulk's or lots of other backs of that sort.

Who is comparing him to Barry Sanders? I was responding to Will saying he's kinda mediocre and a one-dimensional speedster. I don't think either statement is really accurate. He is not an elite player yet, but I would draft his ass tomorrow given the chance.

Bill Barnwell: Well, yeah, if we're just talking about the guys who succeeded. And even then, those guys had shown significantly more than Bush -- in their first two seasons with 100 carries, Dunn was averaging 4.4 and 4.2 YPC, Westbrook 5.2 and 4.6, and Tiki 3.8 and 4.7. Maybe he really is struggling to find the hole and he'll get better at it, but his total stagnation between his first and second years has to at least raise some red flags.

You can't have it both ways, though. On one hand, you're saying "He's not like anyone else" (which he really isn't), but then, on the other hand, you're saying "Here, let's compare him to these guys with somewhat similar skill-sets." Bush lines up in the slot way more than Kevin Faulk does.

I'd draft him too, but I think the point Will's trying to make is that he wasn't worth the No. 2 pick in the draft or the level of hype he received/has received. Which I think is fair.

Mike Tanier: My point is that it is too early to write him off, and that we have to be very careful calling him some one-dimensional player who will never be successful.

And you can't have it both ways by saying his yards per attempt on the ground are proof that he's bad, but that his pass DVOA is tainted because he's a receiver being evaluated as a running back.

You look at 2006, when he was one of the stars on arguably the best Saints team ever as a rookie, led the team in receiving in the playoffs, had an 88-yard touchdown in the playoffs, led the team in receptions during the regular season, had a punt return touchdown, and I think it's pretty obvious there's a great player in there somewhere. I think that was a pretty good return on the investment for the Saints in 2006. Then he has a bad year while dealing with a PCL injury. You don't write the guy off.

Oh, and Westbrook had 43 carries when he averaged 4.2 yards per carry, not 155 like Bush in 2006. While Bush was obviously a huge investment compared to Westbrook, I don't think anyone would seriously argue that Westbrook was better as a rookie. Dunn was better, but Dunn was awful in his third season, and mixed some terrible years into his career. This kind of back does that.

Doug Farrar: Between the offensive line and Deuce McAllister's injury, that offense was also forced into situations that aren't good for any offense. Eventually, you're going to run out of gas when your quarterback has to bail out after three-step drops, but he also has to throw five billion passes because:

A) Your run game is negligible;

B) Your defensive secondary is historically bad and you're playing catchup. Those guys were pass-happy even for Sean Payton, but they were pass-happy in a way that set defenses on Bush. Outlets get starved first with that type of offense, and his receiving YPA dropped from 2006 to 2007 in a way that showed this to be true.

Bill Barnwell: It's definitely too early to write him off, but Mike, everything you're saying to give the guy some rope is about his receiving abilities, and he's a running back. You're right about Westbrook, but at his first two years with 100 carries, he was averaging 5.2 and 4.6 YPC.

Unless the Saints are running the Wing-T and Bush is playing flanker, he's running out of the same spot frequently enough that his rushing DVOA is comparable to other players. The difference between him going out of the backfield for a pass and being split out is obvious and significantly more dramatic on a contextual metric that doesn't account for such a dramatic shift in context.

Mike Tanier: Contextual metrics that don't account for a dramatic shift in context? I'm sold. Is comparing the Eagles offense in 2003 and 2004 to the Saints offense in 2006 and (particularly 2007) a context shift? A dramatic one? More dramatic than the position he lines up in at the start of the formation? Lemme know, because I'm not real sure. And while DVOA lacks the subtlety to recognize that Bush isn't as good a receiving threat as he looks on paper, raw, no-context YPC is the only stat we need to measure rushing ability. That sounds a little specious.

No offense, but you're arguing stats with Mike Tanier, not Raiderjoe. Amp your game up!

Bottom line: What's the latest KUBIAK on Bush? I'll take the rushing plus receiving yards and the OVER. Want action?

Bill Barnwell: There's significantly more similarity between the situations Bush and Westbrook encountered running out of the backfield in their particular offenses as opposed to the differences they did in the passing game. I never claimed YPC was some kind of metric given to us on high, but it's indicative enough of their ability to run the ball. Even if you want to say that NO's receiving DVOA is totally off and Bush is a great receiver, that's fine. What does that make him? A fast Larry Centers? That's great, but no one's handing over $30 million guaranteed for that. If the logic is really "He needs to learn how to hit the hole," well, that's something the Saints scouts should've piped up with when the entire organization had a collective orgasm over him being available at No. 2 two years ago.

I won't take the under because KUBIAK will project him for 16 games, and he won't play them.

Michael Tanier: A fast Larry Centers. Nice. I'll stick with my "he rushed for 565 yards and caught 88 passes and returned punts for a team that finished 5th in offensive DVOA and won a playoff game, so I guess he's a pretty darn good player even though he got hurt and backslid last year."

But you AREN'T taking the under cuz you think he'll get hurt? Are you protecting me from myself? Thanks. How about an OVER-UNDER on DYAR. RUSHING DYAR. He had positive DYAR in 2006, negative DYAR this year despite higher yards per carry.Wanna do OVER-UNDER? Pick a value.

Bill Barnwell: That's true. He's not a fast Larry Centers. Larry Centers could block. I'll take the under on Bush putting up 45 rushing DYAR.

Mike Tanier: Maybe he's a more versatile Wes Welker.

45 rushing DYAR. You are on. And now about the stakes ...

At this point, the stakes of the wager remain undetermined. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 22 Aug 2008

113 comments, Last at 09 Sep 2008, 4:42am by phil

Comments

1
by Bronconut (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:19pm

I'm not sure, but I think the punishment for the loser should involve Raiderjoe somehow.

2
by Mystyc (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:28pm

Definitely. How about doing a postseason Audibles from the RJ perspective? You don't have to use his grammar, but you have to use his logic.

3
by Kevin11 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:29pm

Reggie Bush was breathtaking at USC.

Let me state it again: breathtaking.

It's way too early to give up on him.

4
by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:33pm

The one thing I never understood when Bush was coming out of college was the concept that this guy who averaged less than 14 touches a game (roughly 11 rushes and like 2.5 catches) was such a surefire badass that you'd have to be a complete idiot not to take him with the first overall pick. He was very good when he got the ball, obviously, but if I was an NFL owner, I wouldn't want to throw #1 money at a guy who hadn't ever had to carry an NFL-style workload either. But maybe that's just me.

5
by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:39pm

And there's no need to enumerate all the awesome players I would have not drafted based on that logic if I was an owner. I think we're all aware that there are players like that who go on to have excellent NFL careers. But it's not like that draft was so weak that the coice was between Reggie Bush and a bunch of stiffs. I totally salute the Texans for taking Williams in the face of all that criticism.

6
by Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabbadu (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:40pm

Mike Tanier don't let nobody argue stats with Mike Tanier.

7
by Bronconut (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:41pm

re: 2

Either that, or they have to write an extensive article arguing against several of his most recent posts, AND the whole article must be done using exclusively Raiderjoe logic.

8
by Wes Welker (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:42pm

Tanier,

F*CK YOU!

9
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:44pm

We can make fun of Raiderjoe for his spelling and grammar issues and his homerism, but if you look at the content of his posts, I think his football analysis is pretty good.

10
by Bandicoot (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:45pm

RE: #3. This is exactly the reason that he is over-rated. How breathtaking he was in college really doesn't matter much when it comes to his ability to succeed as a pro. I'm not saying he should be given up on, but I do believe we may be looking more at a Kevin Faulk type career than most people realize.

11
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:51pm

It's an insult to Brian Westbrook to have him compared to Reggie Bush.

12
by MilkmanDanimal (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:51pm

Raiderjoe writes an article for FO, and the loser has to put his name in as the byline. No editing or correction of grammar/syntax allowed.

13
by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:54pm

Notice a similarity between this arguement and Michael Vick? Or Vince Young? Getting away from the numbers, logic says these players do not have what you traditionally look for in the position they play (passing accuracy in the QBs, durability and between the tackles running in the RB).

Therefore to say they will be highly productive players, you must assume that either a) they will develop the skills they lack so far, or b) they will be so good at their exceptional skills (speed in all cases) that they will transform the position and their lack of traditional skills will not matter.

Let's look at a). In Bush's case, he has not yet shown the ability to run through the tackles, or to run 15 - 20 times a game. If he does, he becomes Westbrook with more speed, but no one really known that he will, and most evidence points to "no." Most likely, the hope for Bush lies in:

b). Is he so fast/elusive that his lack of size/durability won't matter? Again, no one really knows but it isn't likely. Is it worth a gamble? Yes, because if he does truly transform the position, no one will have another one like him and the Saints will have a sustainable competitive advantage for several years.

Is that worth $30 Million and a #2 draft pick?

13
by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 1:54pm

3. But of course, Lendale White averaged 6.6 yards/carry behind the same O-Line.

15
by Mystyc (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:03pm

If you want to look at draft value as opposed to just Bush's pros and cons as a football player on the field, you should note the PR bonanza he gave the Saints, who were desperately -- desperately -- in need of it. He put a face to a franchise that had been decimated by a hurricane and was being undermined by talk of a move. Even if he never achieves greatness, or even goodness, he made that team viable as a business in what could have been its most important year.

16
by Dan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:09pm

Recieving DVOA also doesn’t really account for the fact that he’s lining up in the slot more than virtually any other back, no?

What is the baseline (the "average") that DVOA uses for comparison? Is receiving for a RB only compared against receiving for other RBs, or is it compared against receiving for everyone, or is it compared against every play (passing and rushing)? This is a pretty basic question about FO stats, and I just realized that after all these years I don't know the answer.

17
by John Walt (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:16pm

I picked Reggie as #5 overall in a keeper league last year. It is a seven-year long league that keeps 15 players every year. I don't think Bush is anything but a victim of the hype.

As Tanier stated, "You look at 2006, when he was one of the stars on arguably the best Saints team ever as a rookie, led the team in receiving in the playoffs, had an 88-yard touchdown in the playoffs, led the team in receptions during the regular season, had a punt return touchdown, and I think it’s pretty obvious there’s a great player in there somewhere."

I completely agree. Last year was an aberration. His change of pace back, Deuce, got hurt. Pierre Thomas didn't step into the role until later, and Bush had a bum knee. It is way too early to think he isn't going to be great. And let's not forget that Brian Westbrook just started getting credit for being spectacular for years. I am sure it will be the opposite for Reggie in that he is called mediocre long after he has played very well.

18
by podpeople (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:20pm

I concur that comparing Westbrook to Bush is a ridiculous insult to the talent that is Brian Westbrook. The guy is one of the most versatile backs in the last 10-15 years.

19
by erik (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:22pm

#15 is dead on. His contribution in 2006 to New Orleans (the city, not the NFL franchise) was worth a #2 overall.
If a player is over-hyped, that's not the fault of the player, even though that's where the resentment seems to be focused. He might not have met some people's expectations, but Ryan Leaf he ain't.

20
by Ryan Harris (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:23pm

I really liked the way Peyton used Bush in 2006; especially towards the end of the year. I think he would have been used a bit more like that were it not for the extraneous circumstances of the Saints. Losing a hammer of a RB, and having a secondary that couldnt stop Tyler Cherubini is a recipe for disaster.

I think Bush could be huge this year because the Saints have so many weapons that the field will be well spread out.

21
by Nathan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:26pm

Loser has to give up his column for one week to raiderjoe.

22
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:29pm

"when he was one of the stars on arguably the best Saints team ever as a rookie"

One of the stars, yes. One of the better players? No.

"I’m not saying he should be given up on, but I do believe we may be looking more at a Kevin Faulk type career than most people realize."

Bandicoot, Kevin Faulk can block.

23
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:30pm

"If a player is over-hyped, that’s not the fault of the player, even though that’s where the resentment seems to be focused. "

The fact that its not his fault doesn't make him a good player.

The guy was drafted 1.2, and is probably the 5th best RUNNING BACK to come out of that draft.

24
by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:31pm

17. I'm sorry, but I've always thought of Bush as Deuce's change of pace back, not the other way around.

25
by Joseph (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:36pm

Okay, as a Saints fan, I have to weigh in on this article.
(BTW, I am not a Reggie Bush apologist--I think he needs to better utilize the great talent that he obviously has.)
#1. On the wager, I say the loser has to write a Reggie Bush article in PFP 2009 refuting his arguments made here--with EXACT QUOTES in PFP. Fallback wager is that the article is posted here instead of in PFP.
#2. Regarding Bush--Doug Farrer: "Between the offensive line and Deuce McAllister’s injury, that offense was also forced into situations that aren’t good for any offense. Eventually, you’re going to run out of gas when your quarterback has to bail out after three-step drops, but he also has to throw five billion passes because: A) Your run game is negligible; B) Your defensive secondary is historically bad and you’re playing catchup. Those guys were pass-happy even for Sean Payton, but they were pass-happy in a way that set defenses on Bush."
This is very correct regarding 2007. IMO, Bush will prob. never be a "between the tackles" "pound the rock" guy. That's not his skill set, and everyone including Reggie knows this. Where he IS great is in the open field. That's why he's been fielding punts in training camp. For example, check out his screen pass TD against the Cowboys in 2006, and his long TD reception against the Bears in the 2006 playoffs. For a very recent example, check out the preseason game vs. the Texans last Sat. After stiff-arming (IIRC) Reeves earlier in the drive, he catches a swing pass on the Texans 10 yd line with one guy to beat--the same Reeves. Reeves dives low, Reggie anticipates it and HURDLES! the guy (the local radio guys said he wasn't even touched!) and gets in for the TD. This is the amazing talent that people saw. Where Bush MUST improve to be rightfully compared to Dunn/Westbrook is to get 2 yds when nothing else is there, instead of trying to bounce it outside and end up getting tackled for a 1-2 yd. loss.
Another thing not really discussed in the article is Bush's value as a decoy. Although you cannot obviously put a value on it (for him or anyone else), does anyone want to bet that Welker gets 100+ catches last year with NE without Moss drawing deep safety help most of the time? This value as a decoy is, IMO, what makes the Saints running game go. For example, in a standard set (2 WR, 2 RB, 1 TE), Bush motions out of the backfield wide or to the slot. If the defense is in its base, one of three things happen: 1. Bush covered by a LB; 2. Shockey covered by a LB; 3. CB's are one on one with Colston and Patten/Meachem/Henderson. If I were a D-coord., I don't like any of these, although #2 is prob. the most palatable.
If the defense brings in a nickel back/extra safety, you probably have 6 in the box plus the safety covering Shockey. Then audible (if nec.) to a Deuce run, which wasn't possible last year (+ no TE like Shockey to account for).
I'll sum it up with this: part of the Saints downfall offensively last year was no Deuce, no credible threat at TE, and a very average #2 receiver. If Shockey, Bush, Deuce, and Meachem all play at least 12 games (I know--a large IF), Saints O prob. leads the league in yds, if not DYAR and/or DVOA, and wins 10 games by scoring at least 35 in those wins (not per game). If Shockey or Deuce misses a lot of time (50/50 chance), they're still a GOOD offense, but prob. fight for a WC. (As much as the D has improved ON PAPER, I haven't seen it yet this preseason).

GEAUX SAINTS AND GO BUSH!!

26
by Nathan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:42pm

I've figured out the bet!

Loser has to write a feature called

"Every Comment counts"

The loser will use advanced metrics to do a Biography on Raiderjoe, and argue that he has transcended conventional statistics to beat out footballoutsiders in prediction quality.

It must include an interview with raiderjoe, the total number of comments he's written, and other statistics. It must be professionally done, and impeccable.

27
by Charlie H (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:55pm

Is Bush as good as Westbrook? No. That's a pretty easy question to answer. Could he be? Maybe? If the rest of Bush's career is comparable to his rookie year, is he a bust? I don't think so. Maybe not what everyone was hoping for, maybe not what you expect for a No.2 and 30 mil, but its better than a sharp stick in the eye. If the Oline holds up and Deuce stays healthy this year we will have a pretty good indication of what direction he is headed. One thing to remember, he almost single handedly beat the Bears in the playoffs. I will say one thing, when we, yeah I live in N.O., drafted him, I was asking myself whether the organization ever really accounted for his poor performance against Texas, (not the fastest guy on the field anymore?) or if they just bought into the hype. And who knows, maybe its K. Kardashian that is the contextual metric that accounts for such a dramatic shift in context. All I know is I am ready for some football. ch

28
by MossyCade (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:56pm

'nuf hatin' on raiderjoe. My favorite commenter on my favorite site deserves better. And he does know his football.

That said, loser must live-blog a game after drinking a six-pack of Sierra Nevadas.

And some others.

29
by MCS (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:58pm

The loser has to write a tribute article that is meant to convince the reader that the winner's favorite team is the best team in recent memory (no statistical support necessary).

Any parts of the article that extol the greatness of the winner earn bonus points.

30
by Nathan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 2:59pm

Whose hating? I think a tribute to Raiderjoe done professionally would be awesome.

31
by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:02pm

I happened to see a lot of USC football in Bush's last year, and I have to say he was the most exciting RB I'd seen since Barry Sanders. Almost every time he touched the ball he looked like one of those 2 or 3 Gale Sayers highlights that gets shown again and again where he's just making defenders look silly.

Of course, Sanders was doing that in the NFL, and Bush was doing it in the PAC-10.

Honestly, I don't know what to think about the guy. He was absolultely amazing in college and could make people miss by running around them, or in a couple of memorable moments, by hurdling over them. But, as someone noted above, LenDale White looked pretty darn phenomenal in that offense, too.

I thought the most intriguing comments were the ones suggesting that maybe this type of shifty back requires some "seasoning" to become a very good pro, a la Tiki. Given what I've seen Bush do at the college level, I sure hope he continues to develop.

32
by qed (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:02pm

I've been arguing since his rookie year that Sean Payton really needs to get Bush "The Complete Brian Westbrook Game Films vol. III: Running-Between-The-Tackles Edition (with commentary by Tiki Barber)".

If Bush could get a little stronger, run a little lower, use his lateral quickness to keep ILBs from getting a clean hit on him, fall forward after contact, and shrink about 3" so no one could see him coming through the line he'd get 1-3 extra yards per carry.

33
by Thok (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:03pm

The loser should do a discussion on replacement posters and football outsider memes.

How many "True Posts" does raiderjoe have? What's ROBOPUNTER's time zone adjusted humor above replacement? Is Steely McBeam replacement level?

34
by langsty (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:06pm

it was pretty clear last year that bush's injury had sapped away a lot of his explosiveness. when healthy he should still be a pretty formidable weapon, with the caveat that he's more of a satellite player than a feature back. he's not going to become a brian westbrook type of back (lower body too spindly to be an effective inside runner)(btw, payton didn't do him any favors last year with his goofy gameplans, continually running RB up the middle) but his explosiveness and advanced skill-set should make him an effective player for years to come.

35
by bowman (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:21pm

"I know we assume running backs leave college as near-finished products, but the nifty-shifty guys really don’t. They need to learn how to harness that ability and when to take what the defense offers. A lot of them are very inconsistent and not real durable early in their careers."

Awesome - Reggie Bush = Fred Taylor! (actually, a slightly smaller Fred Taylor who can catch)

36
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:23pm

In as few words as possible, my take on Reggie Bush is the same as Vince Young -- put them on a field where their athletic skills aren't head and shoulders above everybody else, and they're going to have very ordinary careers. Is Bush an asset? Or course. Fans of AFCE teams can tell you how valuable Kevin Faulk is to the Patriots. He also came into the draft as the career yardage leader in SEC history, which isn't too shabby, and for all I know he may still own that.

And yet Faulk was a third rounder. I think Bush was just a victim of the sport's increasing popularity, with the Skip Baylesses of the world trying to be louder and more obnoxious that the Woody Pages of the world and everybody and their sisters are draft experts from watching highlight films. We've had about four "once in a generation" players in the last three drafts.

Bush is a very good complementary football player. He's not somebody to build a franchise around.

37
by Marko (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:24pm

"One thing to remember, he almost single handedly beat the Bears in the playoffs."

That's ridiculous. He made one play in the game (admittedly, a huge play), aided by a pick by a wide receiver that wasn't called. The rest of the game, he was pretty much invisible. And the Bears dominated the rest of the game.

When I think of someone single handedly beating a team in the playoffs, I think of Steve Smith against the Bears in the 2005 playoffs. Reggie Bush didn't come close to doing something comparable in the 2006 NFC Championship Game.

38
by JMM (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:29pm

Is the basic question here: Is Bush Richard Huntley coming out of college?

39
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:29pm

I gotta say, I don't think continually bringing up Bush's draft position adds anything to the discussion. Let's evaluate him as a player, and how he fits into the team, but the fact that he was drafted second overall three years ago doesn't really have any bearing on this season.

Personally I think he is too tall (6'0" I think) and built much too high to be a true running back- I'd put him in the slot practically every time if I was his coordinator.

BTW- I thought JJ Arrington would be every bit as good as Reggie Bush as a pro. I still think he can be an effective change of pace guy on the right team.

40
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:42pm

I would have to say that a lot of the Reggie Bush bashing seems to be a product of the contract negotiations before his rookie year. Most reasonable people agree that the rookie salary system is flawed in many ways but the fact is the #2 pick gets less than the #1 pick. Additionally his lack of enthusiasim for playing NO initially added to the idea he's a primadonna. I'm not saying I buy these arguments or that they mean anything with regard to his performance, but they do have a lot to do with how his performance is perceived.

41
by erik (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:44pm

#23 Do you really believe that my argument was "Reggie Bush is over-hyped, and that's not his fault, so that makes him a good player"?

42
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:46pm

41.

IF its not, I don't know what your point was. The resentment of Reggie Bush is only a small part based on the hype. A large part is based on the fact that hes a first round bust. His upside at this point (If he can learn to block) is Kevin Faulk, and thats not what you should bet getting for $10M a year.

43
by Charlie H (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:50pm

Re 37, point taken, I should have said he alomost singlehandedly brought that Saints to having a chance to beat the Bears on one play when they were being completely dominated, or something like that. The point is, the Saints couldn't get anything going, and then he, on one play got them going. Yeah, or maybe I should just shut up. ch

44
by Lou (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:51pm

26

Thats actually a pretty cool idea. But it sounds more like a reward than a punishment

45
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:52pm

Wow--there really are 4 RBs who are unarguably better than Bush who were drafted in 2006.

Addai, Maroney, MJD, and Norwood

46
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:54pm

[Faulk] also came into the draft as the career yardage leader in SEC history, which isn’t too shabby, and for all I know he may still own that.

True if you're talking about all-purpose yards - Faulk had 1,676 yards on kick and punt returns in his 4 years at LSU. Herschel Walker holds the SEC records for rushing yards and yards from scrimmage, both set in 3 years . SEC record book (warning - PDF).

47
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 3:56pm

The link for the SEC record book is here.

48
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 4:12pm

It’s an insult to Brian Westbrook to have him compared to Reggie Bush.

Depends on which Brian Westbrook we're talking about. If it's Westbrook now vs. Bush now, then yes, it's an absurd comparison. But if it's Westbrook's first two years vs. Bush's first two years, I don't think they're that terribly different.

For instance, if you look at total combined DYAR (rushing and receiving) over the first two years of their careers, it's Westbrook 305 to Bush 263. And Bush had 310 in his Rookie year, which is more than Westbrook had in either of his first two years. Overall, yeah, Westbrook was better, but not by a ton. Saying that Bush '06-'07 is similar to Westbrook '02-'03 is hardly insulting.

loser must live-blog a game after drinking a six-pack of Sierra Nevadas.

Oh, definitely. This has my vote. This just has to happen.

49
by BHW (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 4:22pm

The criticisms of Bush now are exactly the same as the criticisms of him coming out of college -- only now we have two pro years of NFL play to validate those criticisms.

As I see it, Bush will never be a great or even very good RB until he learns that a hole is something you run through, not an open invitation to engage in interpretive dance. Get through the hole, get yards, dance around when you get in the open field -- his speed, quickness, and agility stand out against San Diego high schoolers with no tackling technique and against 95% of college defenders, but aren't so many standard deviations above the norm when compared to NFL defensive players. He's going to be boom-or-bust as a rusher until he internalizes this lesson, and on a team with the injury/blocking problems of the 2007 Saints, there's going to be a lot more bust than boom.

Even if he doesn't adapt to the realities of the NFL, he can still be productive as a receiver out of both the backfield and slot, and in the return game. He can be a change-of-pace back and can create some real match-up problems when used creatively. He's a guy who can help a team, definitely, but over his five seasons in the national spotlight, has yet to demonstrate either the stamina or consistency required of a feature back. He's a complementary back, and likely overpaid and certainly overhyped in that role.

50
by John (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 4:23pm

#45: Wow–there really are 4 RBs who are unarguably better than Bush who were drafted in 2006.

Yeah, and the Colts came this close to having two of them.

51
by SteveGarvin (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 4:33pm

This does bring up an interesting talking point about USC and skill players. USC's dominanation of the line of scrimmage seems to skew public perspective about certain players. In specific, scouting USC skill guys requires a media filter.

Bush was amazing there - but he was also ripping through insane holes. This is similar to Lienart, who had weeks on end to throw. Both guys may be NFL studs, but each hasn't taken the league by storm (the way the LA media - at least - expected them to).

I tend to side with Tanier in that I think Bush will be a solid NFL contributor for a long time - however, I think it would be interesting to see if there was some way to gauge (statistically) a Carroll-era USC prospect's chance of immediately living up to the hype (similar to the College QB system PFP uses). How many USC superstars aside from Palmer have done it (maybe Lendale)?

52
by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 4:47pm

Reggie Bush cannot be compared to Tiki Barber and Westbrook. Those guys have the skills set to make guys miss, catch well and take the ball the distance. Bush can only catch and make the long run. His problem is that he doesn't have the lateral moves and vision/smarts to make guys miss. If he has a HUGE hole he can run through it faster than most but alot of guys can do that. He reminds me of a Willie Parker but a much better receiver, way less durable though.

Don't tell me that he is going to get better, his best days were in college and now all he can do it live on the leftover hype from those days.

53
by mattfwood (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:00pm

What a great example of FO's navel-gazing self-aggrandizement:

"I think if you’d asked most casual fans, they’d think [Bush would] put up a 150 [Speed Score] or so."

No they wouldn't. Most casual fans haven't heard of Football Outsiders, let alone Speed Score.

54
by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:05pm

My only criticism of Bush is that he doesn't run through contact well. I'm not saying that every RB needs to be a Marion Barber type and run over people, but yards after contact are a necessity in the league now.

Westbrook and Tiki have open-space moves and speed too, but they both could make people bounch off them... their whole game wasn't based on making people miss.

And before you say, well Barry Sanders did it... not everyone is Barry Sanders, and I do believe that was a big reason why he was a boom or bust runner. He couldn't shake off the contact at the line of scrimmage as well as some of the other guys (although his other skills more than made up for this).

55
by Josh (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:08pm

and shrink about 3″ so no one could see him coming through the line he’d get 1-3 extra yards per carry.

The height factor is something that isn't brought up enough with Bush. He's 6'0" or 6'1", which is too tall for a RB (ideal height being 5'10". I don't really know why tall RB's not named Eric Dickerson don't do well in the NFL, but the truth is, they don't.

RE: 53

I think what they meant was if a casual fan (or even an FO reader) had the concept of Speed Scores explained to them, they would think Bush's would be insanely high, which it isn't. There is a misconception of Bush's speed--it ain't that impressive given his weight.

56
by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:12pm

53. Well, it's a good thing that Carroll is a writer for BP (award winning, even) and is not an outsider. He mostly does injury stuff for FO, the stuff he did for baseball. It's hard to blame FO for stuff non-FO writers say.

57
by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:26pm

Why can't Bush be compared to Barber? It took until year 4 for Barber to really do anything. His yards/carry his first two years were 3.8 and 3.2, and his yards/reception were 8.8 and 8.3. Bush has 3.6 and 3.7 for yards/carry and 8.4 and then 5.7 yards/reception. It clearly took Barber a little while to develop those skills.

58
by Carlos (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:29pm

53: not everyone is Barry Sanders, and I do believe that was a big reason why he was a boom or bust runner. He couldn’t shake off the contact at the line of scrimmage as well as some of the other guys

He had to beat one or two defenders just to get TO the line of scrimmage.

If Sanders and Emmitt Smith had switched teams, Sanders' career totals would blow our minds.

59
by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 5:56pm

58. This is true, and I did not want to imply that Sanders was somehow deficient. He wasn't. However, the differences in their O-Lines was always greatly exaggerated.

60
by TheDudeAbides (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 6:13pm

For a FootballOutsiders argument, it seems like Tanier and Barnwell miss some of the most obvious arguments on both sides. A quick perusal of New Orleans line stats shows that the Saints were one of the best/better run blocking units in both '06 and '07 in terms of adjusted line yards. Both years NO RBs dramatically underperformed with one of the largest gaps down from adjusted line yards to running back yards in the NFL. This paints not just Reggie Bush but Deuce McAllister and Aaron Stecker in a negative light.

On the other hand, Bush isn't necessarily a bust even if he has another bad year. Few people remember just how underwhelming Marshall Faulk was in Indianapolis. For his career there he averaged less than 4 yards per carry for 5 YEARS. Then he was traded to St. Louis and his yards per carry immediately jumped to 5.5 and his receiving yards went over 1000.

Tanier and Barnwell go back and forth on goofy uses of "context" but don't emphasize enough how backs like Bush struggle in horizontal offenses. With Faulk and Priest Holmes, Martz and Al Saunders were able to challenge the field vertically with the receivers and then get the backs the ball in space. But there's a big difference between getting the ball in space behind the line of scrimmage - which is useless against the speed of NFL defenses - and across the line of scrimmage.

If Bush has an excellent season in '08 it will almost certainly be the result of the Saints ability to run deeper routes with the receivers. (This is also the reason why - one year after FO predicted it - Frank Gore will lead the league in yards.)

61
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 6:24pm

One thing to remember, he almost single handedly beat the Bears in the playoffs.

Even if we were to construe his long TD in that game as 'almost single handedly beating the Bears', that's like saying 'Ron Dayne almost single handedly beat the Colts in Week 16 of 2006'. Interesting, but not particularly important in evaluating the players in question.

Personally I think he is too tall (6′0″ I think) and built much too high to be a true running back- I’d put him in the slot practically every time if I was his coordinator.

I'd agree, except that he's still got significant value as a runner, if used correctly. In 2006, he was 28th/27th in rushing DYAR/DVOA, which is almost as good as the average starting RB in the NFL (i.e. only about 20 or so teams had a more productive RB in 2006). So, if he gets back to that level, and improves slightly, he'd be an average starting quality RB, which is not something to just toss aside if you can help it. Of course, his main value would still be as a receiver, but I'd have him run the ball a fair amount of the time, as well. The combined value of a good slot receiver and an average starting RB would make him well worth his salary cap hit.

A large part is based on the fact that hes a first round bust. His upside at this point (If he can learn to block) is Kevin Faulk, and thats not what you should bet getting for $10M a year.

First off, he's not a bust at this point. He outperformed his salary cap hit in his rookie year, and underperformed it in his second year while injured. There's no way of knowing for sure whether he'll outperform his cap hit in future years, but at the very least, it's not accurate to say that he's a bust already.

Second, you keep repeating the claim that his upside is Kevin Faulk, as if we're just supposed to take your word for it that he'll never be any better than that. Here's a news flash for you: In his rookie year, Bush had significantly more total DYAR than Kevin Faulk has had in any of his nine years in the NFL. "If he can learn to block", and can replicate his rookie year performance as a runner/receiver, he'll be significantly better than Kevin Faulk has ever been.

And that's assuming his peak as a runner/receiver is the level he's already reached. If he develops into a good runner, and continues to do well as a receiver, he'll be far better than Kevin Faulk. In fact, to paraphrase Raiderjoe, he'd be 'like homeless man Marshell Fuallk'. And that'd be plenty good enough to justify a #2 overall pick.

Wow–there really are 4 RBs who are unarguably better than Bush who were drafted in 2006.

Addai, Maroney, MJD, and Norwood

Better as runners? So far? Sure. Better overall? There might be an argument that Bush's receiving skills have made him about as valuable as Jerious Norwood. And I think there's also an argument with Maroney, who's total combined DYAR over the last two seasons is 308, which, while somewhat better than Bush's 263, has been accumulated primarily in a historically great offense, one that helped Wes Welker get to 4th in the NFL in receiving DYAR (Welker's good, but he's not that good).

I would agree that Addai, while also the beneficiary of better teammates on offense, has done well enough that we can be fairly sure he's better than Bush. And MJD's been better than Bush without significantly better teammates, so I'll give you him, too.

But again, this is two years into their careers. Who knows what will happen in future seasons? If we were having this conversation after the 1998 season, we could've said similar things about Tiki Barber (who gained 677 rushing yards in 188 carries in his first two seasons) vs. Warrick Dunn, Corey Dillon, Antowain Smith, and Duce Staley (who had all had at least one season with 1000+ rushing yards by that point). Right now, I'm not sure I'd agree that any of those four RBs were really better than Barber over their entire careers. At the very least, I'd say Barber was significantly better than Smith and Staley. So, I don't think we can say with that much certainty whether Bush will end up being better than the rest or not.

62
by DEW (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 6:47pm

One point concerning Bush in 2006 versus Bush in 2007: the Saints as a whole were way, way better in 2006. To me, a player who performs well on a good team and not so hot on a bad time is pretty much the definition of "average." Sure, there's going to be some sliding back and forth, but Wes Welker was still a good WR for a bordered-on-pathetic Dolphins offense (pardon me while I sadly weep, being a 'Fins fan) before he put up ungodly numbers on the same field as Brady and Moss. Brian Westbrook put up excellent numbers for the Eagles even when they were 6-10. Steve Smith's been excellent for years with the WR equivalent of "Hole in Zone" as Carolina's #2. Star talents find ways to excel even in poor situations, and Bush doesn't do that yet. Whether he will in the future is purely hypothesis and guesswork (heck, people can't even agree if Michael Vick was a good quarterback or not in the years he actually played, not just based on "potential").

63
by MC2 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 9:03pm

People keep saying that it's not Bush's fault that he was drafted so high and hyped so much. While technically true, this misses 2 important points:

1) It lets people who engaged in this hype off the hook. The fact is I can't EVER remember a player receiving the kind of hype that Bush did. We were constantly told that he was going to "revolutionize the game", that "any team that passes on him in the draft must be crazy", that he's the next Barry Sanders/Gale Sayers/LaDainian Tomlinson, that any team that drafts him can sit back and wait for the Lombardi Trophies to start piling up, that (barring injury) he's a lock HOFer, and so on. And it wasn't just the Mel Kipers of the world saying this. It was basically everybody, including many people on these very boards. Now many of these same people say that it's unfair to hold him to such lofty standards. You can't have it both ways.

2) It ignores the fact that Bush has in fact profitted quite handsomely from his draft status and all the hype that he received coming out of college. He had already signed several major endorsement deals before he ever played a single down in the NFL. These deals were based on little more than pure media hype. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with Reggie accepting whatever money that people want to give him, whether it's the Saints or Pepsi or Subway or whoever. The career of a RB is very short, and he should get all he can. But if he's going to take all that money, based on nothing but potential and hype, he needs to be prepared to take some criticism when he fails to live up to the potential and the hype. Again, you can't have it both ways.

64
by Mike Tanier :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 9:17pm

I don't drink Sierra Nevada. Not a big deal though, since I don't plan on losing.

But the "game" Barnwell will have to live blog should be the Pro Bowl. Not that it is up to me.

65
by DraughtKeg (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 9:46pm

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. The man ran for 8.7 ypc his junior year at USC.

The simplest explanation is that Payton, though he may be a good coach in general, is using him poorly. Maybe no player, no matter how fast, can succeed if you toss him the ball 3 feet behind the line. I don't watch the Saints, so is all second hand.

66
by Dice (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:00pm

I don't think Bush will ever live up to the hype and he's always going to be better as a receiver than as a halfback. As another poster said, if the Saints can get him to perform at the average halfback level, and combine that with his receiving, he's worth it. If not, is he significantly better than the average slot receiver to warrant his salary and cap hit?

67
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:01pm

See, I see this the opposite way: Payton should just make Reggie Bush a running back, give him the ball 280 times, and teach him to stop dancing, pick your hole, make one cut, and then run as far as you can before somebody knocks you down.

That's how you play running back in the NFL, and all this tinkering around with Reggie Bush, Super Weapon is preventing him from ever learning how to be a running back.

68
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:49pm

Steve Smith’s been excellent for years with the WR equivalent of “Hole in Zone” as Carolina’s #2.

Steve Smith's DYAR in 2007: 42.

To put that in perspective, New England, Cincinnati, Dallas, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, New Orleans, and Seattle all had 4 WRs with more than 42 DYAR in 2007. So even Steve Smith is not completely immune to teammate suckage.

Also, Randy Moss didn't exactly light up the world in Oakland. He was about replacement level in 2006, and then had one of the best seasons in the DVOA era in 2007 after going to New England. Stars don't always do well when their teammates are sufficiently bad.

Star talents find ways to excel even in poor situations, and Bush doesn’t do that yet.

Good thing nobody has claimed that Bush is a star yet. As for whether he will become a star, who knows, but there are plenty of cases of players not being great early in their careers, and then becoming stars later on. In particular, there are enough players with reasonably similar skill sets that also struggled early in their careers in similar ways that there's still good reason to think he'll end up being a very good player.

For instance, Tiki Barber didn't have a season with positive rushing DYAR until his fourth year in the league.

I think this statement is what's causing the problem:

I’d draft him too, but I think the point Will’s trying to make is that he wasn’t worth the No. 2 pick in the draft or the level of hype he received/has received. Which I think is fair.

What some of us have been arguing is that it's not fair to say that he wasn't worth the No. 2 pick in the draft, given that his performance has been decent so far, and there's a good chance that he'll develop into a very good player.

69
by mrh (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 10:49pm

#8 - I thought Tanier was taking a shot at Barnwell's analysis last year (link in name) which predicted that you'd see 50 targets, catch 64% for 35 rec and 445 yds. Actual stats: 145 targets, 77% cacth rate, 112 rec for 1175 yards. If he does as good a job predicting Bush this year, Tanier will cruising to victory in late October.

70
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Fri, 08/22/2008 - 11:32pm

I can't believe how many people are excusing Bush's 2007 performance by saying "the Saints had a weak offense in 2007" and generally acting as if an offense that ranked eighth in DVOA and seventh in adjusted line yards was dragging him down. In fact, the Saints had 4.66 adjusted line yards on Bush's runs but 5.20 ALY with everyone else, so that figure is lower than it should be.
Good thing nobody has claimed that Bush is a star yet.
Mike Tanier: “You look at 2006, when he was one of the stars on arguably the best Saints team ever as a rookie, led the team in receiving in the playoffs, had an 88-yard touchdown in the playoffs, led the team in receptions during the regular season, had a punt return touchdown, and I think it’s pretty obvious there’s a great player in there somewhere.”
What some of us have been arguing is that it’s not fair to say that he wasn’t worth the No. 2 pick in the draft, given that his performance has been decent so far, and there’s a good chance that he’ll develop into a very good player.
Laurence Maroney, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Joseph Addai have done substantially more than he has, and Lendale White, DeAngelo Williams, Jerious Norwood, and Leon Washington have posted similar or better stats in weak offenses.

71
by MossyCade (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 12:49am

Live-blogging Pro-Bowl whilst inebriated = Greatest February site traffic in the history of Footballoutsiders.

The "Pro Bowl" part is pure genius.

72
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 12:50am

One point concerning Bush in 2006 versus Bush in 2007: the Saints as a whole were way, way better in 2006.

That's not really a good argument.

Yes the Saints as a whole were a better team in 2006 than in 2007, but the offense was extremely similar in both seasons. In 2006, the Saints were 5th in offensive DVOA at 13.4%, and in 2007 they were 8th overall in offensive DVOA at 10.1%. That's a very small drop-off in 2007, but honestly it's nowhere near big enough to account for the drop-off in Bush's production.

The main reason for the Saints drop-off from 2006 to 2007 was the pass defense went from slightly below average to historically bad. In 2006 they had a 5.8% DVOA against the pass, but in 2007 it dropped all the way to a whopping 28.6%. The offense was about the same, but the bottom fell out mainly due to a terrible pass defense, and that has nothing to do with Bush's troubles.

73
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:12am

People keep saying that it’s not Bush’s fault that he was drafted so high and hyped so much. While technically true, this misses 2 important points:

1) It lets people who engaged in this hype off the hook.

Not really. Saying that it's not Bush's fault that he was hyped so much leaves open the possibility that it is the media's fault that he was overrated (and whoever else was hyping him up so much). I agree that someone should be blamed, but I don't see why we need to insist that it be Bush, instead of the people actually responsible.

The fact is I can’t EVER remember a player receiving the kind of hype that Bush did. We were constantly told that he was going to “revolutionize the game”, that “any team that passes on him in the draft must be crazy”, that he’s the next Barry Sanders/Gale Sayers/LaDainian Tomlinson, that any team that drafts him can sit back and wait for the Lombardi Trophies to start piling up, that (barring injury) he’s a lock HOFer, and so on. And it wasn’t just the Mel Kipers of the world saying this. It was basically everybody, including many people on these very boards. Now many of these same people say that it’s unfair to hold him to such lofty standards. You can’t have it both ways.

I agree that he was hyped more than just about any other player in recent memory, by 99% of the people who watched the NFL (the other 1% of us were bracing for the disappointment of watching Houston draft anything but a lineman #1 overall. Of course, as it turned out, Houston disappointed in a completely unexpected, but much more pleasant, way).

And again, whoever was spouting nonsense about how "Bush is going to be so absurdly great that only a brain-dead monkey would pass on him for any other player in the draft", should be criticized for doing so. If 99% of the sports world (fans, media, etc.) was making the ridiculous statements about how great Bush was going to be, then that 99% of the sports world should be held responsible for it, not Bush himself.

2) It ignores the fact that Bush has in fact profitted quite handsomely from his draft status and all the hype that he received coming out of college. He had already signed several major endorsement deals before he ever played a single down in the NFL. These deals were based on little more than pure media hype.

The deals were only based on media hype to the extent that they wouldn't have happened had he not been so hyped. But the companies paying him all this money were going to benefit from his endorsement of their products regardless of whether he actually played well in the NFL, because he was already a household name anyway. The value of the deal to the companies didn't depend greatly on his play on the field. Ironically, the same ubiquitous hype that brought him endorsement deals incommensurate with his ability also ensured that these deals wouldn't really hurt the companies involved, even if Bush fell short of expectations on the field.

I have no problem with Reggie accepting whatever money that people want to give him, whether it’s the Saints or Pepsi or Subway or whoever. The career of a RB is very short, and he should get all he can. But if he’s going to take all that money, based on nothing but potential and hype, he needs to be prepared to take some criticism when he fails to live up to the potential and the hype.

As I said above, I don't think Pepsi or Subway would have any reason to be angry with him even if he doesn't succeed on the field. As for the Saints, it kind of depends.

If Bush just doesn't work hard enough, isn't disciplined enough, or becomes a locker room cancer, and fails as an NFL player because of that? Then sure, he should (and would) be criticized for it, and the Saints would have good reason to be angry with him.

But if he really does work hard, has the right attitude, does everything he can to become a good NFL player, but still ends up not being good enough? Then, the correct target of criticism would be the Saints front office. If they evaluated him and came to the conclusion that Bush was sufficiently talented to be worth the contract they gave him, and that turns out not to be the case, then the Saints should be the ones taking the heat for it.

Players are responsible for working hard to become as good as they possibly can be. NFL teams are responsible for making sure that if the player does this, he'll be worth what the team is paying him. If Bush doesn't dedicate himself to improving as a player and reaching his potential, shame on him. If the Saints front office evaluated him incorrectly, and his abilities aren't great enough to justify the contract they offered him, then shame on them.

I don’t drink Sierra Nevada. Not a big deal though, since I don’t plan on losing.

Man, you are really missing out (on Sierra Nevada, that is, not on losing).

But the “game” Barnwell will have to live blog should be the Pro Bowl.

Absolutely. Bonus points if Reggie Bush is playing in it.

See, I see this the opposite way: Payton should just make Reggie Bush a running back, give him the ball 280 times, and teach him to stop dancing, pick your hole, make one cut, and then run as far as you can before somebody knocks you down.

That’s how you play running back in the NFL

This is news to Andy Reid. In fact, here's a list of a few RBs that have never had 280+ carries: Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai, Marion Barber, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Jacobs, and Laurence Maroney. Funny how 6 of the top 7 players in rushing DYAR apparently don't know "how you play running back in the NFL".

74
by Josh (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:27am

Reggie Bush dated Kim Kardashian, who has a JLAHR (J-Lo Ass Adjusted Hotness Ratio) of 9.346

That's gotta count for something.

75
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:34am

That’s how you play running back in the NFL, and all this tinkering around with Reggie Bush, Super Weapon is preventing him from ever learning how to be a running back.

Best post of the thread.

76
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 2:34am

I only read the first 50 comments...

I think the real problem with RB is basically two things.

1) what poster #13 said

2) He was (and I think still is), the highest paid RB in the league!?!?!?! Complete waste of cap space...

There is so much more you could do with that draft pick and/or the cap space, not saying he is not a good player, but....

77
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 2:54am

Speaking of which that is at least one thing I would love to see more coverage of on this site. The business side of things. It is not directly related, but I generally think the fan base more interested in the business/management/capology side of things overlaps very heavily with the stathead/outsider side of things.

Maybe even a monthly column on all the teams situations, or a weekly rotating column taking them 8 at a time.

78
by MC2 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 4:21am

#73: "The deals were only based on media hype to the extent that they wouldn’t have happened had he not been so hyped. But the companies paying him all this money were going to benefit from his endorsement of their products regardless of whether he actually played well in the NFL, because he was already a household name anyway."

I completely agree, but I still think it's hard to feel sorry for Bush. The media hype is kind of a "good news/bad news" situation. You get the big salary and the lucrative endorsements, but you also have to endure the criticism. It comes with the territory, as they say. Whether that's "fair" or not is a matter of opinion, but I bet most players would be happy to trade places with Bush.

79
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 4:40am

As a Saints fan, one of the main things I wonder about is his future usage rates. A lot of people talk about how he is not a 300 carry back, but that's just stating the obvious; anyone who is remotely following the situation knows that. But if he's not a 300 carry back, then what is he? Exactly how many carries per year can we expect out him? 150? 175? 200? 250? What?

In his rookie season, Bush had 155 carries in the regular season. Last year he had 157 through 12 games before going down with injury. And it's not like FO is really expecting things to be any different in 2008. They are only projecting him to have around 150 carries, and it works out to be only about 9 carries per game.

Again, I understand that he's not going to ever be a 300 carry guy, but that doesn't tell us a whole lot. People love to compare him to Marshall Faulk and Brian Westbrook, but those two guys saw the ball much more than Bush has to date and more than FO projects him to see in 2008. In Faulk's first ten years in the league, he averaged almost 250 carries per year, and was averaging almost 20 carries per game. At no point in his career, until he was a physically broken back-up in his final season, did he ever have fewer than 195 carries in a season. And Westbrook carries the ball quite a bit, too. The past two years he has averaged over 250 carries per year, and FO is projecting him to get around 275 in 2008.

At this point, it's hard to say if Bush will ever get the ball that much in the running game. Again, he barely saw 150 carries as a rookie, and even if he had been able to stay healthy in 2007 -- and that injury may or may not have had something to do with his increased usage -- he would have barely broken the 200 carry barrier, and that was with the main ball carrier (Deuce) going down for the season with a torn ACL in week three.

Again, I know he's never going to be a 300 carry guy, but that's not the point. Can we ever expect him to be able to carry the ball as often as a guy like Faulk or Westbrook? Or is he basically going to be this career 150-175 carry guy?

If it's the latter, that's a major problem for Bush. Even if he is a truly great, game-changing type of tailback, when you only getting 9-10 carries per game, it's going to be hard to make that big of an impact. After all, regardless of how big of a playmaker you may be, if you only see the ball a handful of times per game, that makes it pretty difficult to really put up the production.

80
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 5:01am

2) He was (and I think still is), the highest paid RB in the league!?!?!?! Complete waste of cap space…

He was not, and is not, the highest paid RB in the league! His cap hit as a rookie was 23rd among NFL RBs, and in 2007, it was 14th. Hell, he hasn't even been the highest paid RB on his own team! Deuce McAllister was the 6th highest paid RB in 2006, and 5th highest in 2007.

81
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 5:54am

The media hype is kind of a “good news/bad news” situation. You get the big salary and the lucrative endorsements, but you also have to endure the criticism. It comes with the territory, as they say.

Sure, I don't think we need to worry ourselves over his feelings. If unwarranted criticism is bothering him, I'm sure he can console himself with his ridiculous amounts of money. I just don't think anyone has any particularly good reason to criticize him for the deals.

Again, I understand that he’s not going to ever be a 300 carry guy, but that doesn’t tell us a whole lot. People love to compare him to Marshall Faulk and Brian Westbrook, but those two guys saw the ball much more than Bush has to date and more than FO projects him to see in 2008.

Actually, Westbrook didn't even see the ball as much as Bush in his first two years in the league. In his first two seasons he had 46 carries and 117 carries. Bush had more in each of his first two years than Westbrook did in either of his. So there's still hope.

Honestly, I see Bush as being somewhere around a 200 carry RB, give or take 25 carries. And there's no reason he can't be productive enough with that workload. 6 of the top 10 RBs in 2007, by DYAR, had between 175-225 carries. And even if he only gets 160 carries a year, he could still end up in the top 10 in DYAR, if his DVOA is, say, top 5 or so in the NFL. That's not so hard to imagine.

And a top 10 RB + a very good slot receiver = a great player. Well worth the draft pick and cap hit. If he recovers from injury and gets a little better than he was as a rookie, he'll be a great player.

82
by nmsu (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 8:03am

Reggie Bush plays most like Eric Metcalf who was a great change of pace/3rd down back and returner. Bush was amazing @ USC, but Metcalf was amazing @ Texas.

Bush is a 1st round talent, but not a top of the draft 1st rounder. SO much is expected of him that there is no way he could not be a disappointment.

83
by Justin Zeth (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 9:00am

#73:

That’s how you play running back in the NFL

This is news to Andy Reid. In fact, here’s a list of a few RBs that have never had 280+ carries: Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai, Marion Barber, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Jacobs, and Laurence Maroney. Funny how 6 of the top 7 players in rushing DYAR apparently don’t know “how you play running back in the NFL”.

Sorry for not being clear -- I wasn't really including the 280 carries part in that. I meant, successful NFL RB's know how to pick your hole, make one cut and go get as much yardage as you can. Reggie Bush thinks he's Barry Sanders; he is not. Nobody is Barry Sanders. But he could still be Marshall Faulk if the Saints quit jerking him around and teach him how to be a running back.

The 280 carries part, I'm just saying the Saints need to feed him the rock consistently, so as to give him experience being a running back.

84
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 10:43am

Re: 82

I also thought of the Metcalf comparison when reading some of the early posts on this thread.

There has never been a great NFL runing back that couldn't run between the tackles. I don't think Bush will be the first.

85
by Kellerman (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 11:14am

To me, Bush's upside (and potential) and career so far is James Brooks.

86
by Temo (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 11:43am

80. Deuce: 7/29/2005: Signed an eight-year, $50.1 million contract. The deal contains $12.5 million in guarantees, including annual $100,000 workout bonuses. 2008: $2.4 million, 2009: $3.2 million (+ $2 million roster bonus), 2010: $6.2 million, 2011: $7.1 million, 2012: $8.1 million, 2013: Free Agent

Reggie: 7/29/2006: Signed a six-year, $52.5 million contract. The deal contains $26.31 million guaranteed, including a $12.5 million option bonus in the second year and $9.5 million in incentives. 2008: $1.55 million, 2009: $2.225 million (+ $4 million roster bonus), 2010: $2.9 million, 2011: $3.575 million, 2012: Free Agent

LDT:8/14/2004: Signed an eight-year, $60 million contract. The deal includes $21 million in guarantees. 2008: $5.75 million, 2009: $6.725 million, 2010: $8 million, 2011: $9.275 million, 2012: Free Agent

Larry Johnson:8/21/2007: Signed a six-year, $45.05 million contract. The deal included a $12.5 million signing bonus and contains $19 million in total guarantees. The first three years' base salaries are guaranteed. 2008: $2.5 million (+ $100,000 workout bonus + $62,500 per-game roster bonuses), 2009: $4.55 million (+ $100,000 workout bonus + $62,500 per-game roster bonuses), 2010: $5 million (+ $1 million roster bonus due 3/1 + $100,000 workout bonus + $62,500 per-game roster bonuses), 2011: $5.3 million (+ $1 million roster bonus due 3/1 + $100,000 workout bonus + $62,500 per-game roster bonuses), 2012: $5.9 million (+ $1 million roster bonus due 3/1 + $100,000 workout bonus + $62,500 per-game roster bonuses), 2013: Free Agent. Cap charges: $6.156 million (2008), $8.206 million (2009), $9.183 million (2010), $9.483 million (2011), $10.083 million (2012).

He got more guaranteed money than any of these guys. Say what you will about his potential, but he has certainly underperformed his contract the first two years of the deal.

87
by langsty (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:08pm

all that matters is his annual cap hit.

88
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:11pm

-80

There are 24 running backs hitting:

12.1 million cap hit this year and 13.5 next year?

I find that very hard to believe...

89
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:15pm

RE: 67

I agree that this was the best post on the subject bar none. I think one of the biggest problems that fans and some media have is " over thinking " a particular players role. Can Reggie Bush be a good to very good running back? Without a doubt, but it will take a bit of patience and understanding that Bush won't average over 8 yards a carry like he did at Southern Cal or rip off 78 yard runs every 2 carries. The fact of the matter is as a running back there are going to be alot of " 68 yards on 21 carries " type of games from Bush. But there will also be a fair share of " 145 yards on 25
carries " type games as well. Poster #67
said it best, the Saints need to teach him how to follow blocks, identify a hole and hit it. Whether it goes for 20 yards or 2 yards does not matter. Reggie will probably never justify his draft status because too many people are looking for him to put up ungodly numbers. But there is no reason why Bush, with a little more experience and tutouring, could not average around 900 to 1300 yards per year
based on his carries and his load split with Deuce McCallister. Goodness, if the Saints ever got that together they could be a hell of a running team. Plus with the other weapons they have, whooo.

90
by The Hypno-Toad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 1:43pm

"I've said this before, and I'll say it again. The man ran for 8.7 ypc his junior year at USC.
The simplest explanation is that Payton, though he may be a good coach in general, is using him poorly."
Really? I would say that the simplest explanation is that a guy who had always been the fastest guy on the field got to the NFL and found NFL defenses... Not so much like Pac-10 defenses. Generally I think that's the easiest explanation whenever a college speedster with questionable technique and irregular size for his position gets to the NFL and struggles a bit. The NFL players are so much faster (on average) than the college players that the speedster's advantage is somewhat cancelled out.

91
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 3:09pm

Sorry for not being clear — I wasn’t really including the 280 carries part in that. I meant, successful NFL RB’s know how to pick your hole, make one cut and go get as much yardage as you can. Reggie Bush thinks he’s Barry Sanders; he is not. Nobody is Barry Sanders. But he could still be Marshall Faulk if the Saints quit jerking him around and teach him how to be a running back.

Well, seeing as they have a RB who recently learned how to run between the tackles after a boom-and-bust early career, I think they'll figure out some way to get the message to Bush. Of course, with any luck, Bush won't have to tear his ACL to learn between the tackles running.

Also, even if he does get really good running between the tackles, they should definitely still use him extensively as a receiver. He's just too valuable in that role not to. But yeah, learning between the tackles running is definitely on Bush's To Do List. I think we can all agree to that.

He got more guaranteed money than any of these guys.

Yeah, but that's because he's going to be 26 years old in the last year of his contract. He'll probably be in the prime of his career at that point.

On the other hand, LJ, Deuce, and LT will be 34, 34, and 32, respectively, in the last years of their contracts. It would take a miracle for LJ or Deuce to be playing at a high level at that age, and even LT might experience significant age-related decline by then.

So, Bush has an excellent chance of playing out his entire contract, and being good at the end of it. LJ and Deuce have very little chance of playing out their contracts, and virtually no chance of being very good at the end of them. LT has a pretty good chance of playing out his contract, and decent chance of still playing at a high level at that point, but even he might be trailing off towards retirement by then.

And LT's contract was signed two years ago. If he were being signed today, he'd probably be getting a more lucrative contract than Bush. That's why AJ Smith is widely recognized as a very talented GM - he gets important players signed before their prices get really high.

Say what you will about his potential, but he has certainly underperformed his contract the first two years of the deal.

What do mean, underperformed his contract? If you mean, he's been guaranteed more money than RBs with a similar performance level have been guaranteed, then fine. He has. But I really don't see how that's relevant at all. NFL teams aren't restricted by guaranteed money. They're restricted by salary cap hits. The only thing guaranteed money restricts is the bank account of a billionaire owner.

And I can see how it probably seems unfair to some of the other players that Bush's bank account is going to grow much faster than theirs, even though many of them are as good or better than Bush is now. But I really don't care whether an obscenely wealthy NFL owner becomes slightly less obscenely wealthy. And my sympathy for less well paid players is limited by the fact that even they are still getting very good money.

In terms of his effect on the team's ability to win games, he only underperformed his contract last year, when his cap hit was $3.7 million and he wasn't playing as well as an average starting RB. In his rookie year, his cap hit was $2.7 million, and he played like an average/above average starting RB, if you consider his receiving, and so he was outperforming his contract by a fair amount. Overall, he's been worth about what his cap hits have been. The real test is whether he improves in the later years of his contract, when his cap hit will actually be high. If he's not a good/very good RB by year 4, then he'll be underperforming his contract significantly.

And while his cap hit will get higher every year, so will the NFL salary cap itself. In fact, in a few years, we're going to have an uncapped season (supposedly). In any case, if the NFL salary cap keeps growing at the rate it has been in the past, it'll be about 65% higher by the last year of Bush's contract than it was when he signed it. So when you look at what his cap number will be in the last couple years of his contract, remember to mentally divide that number by about 1.5 if you want to compare it to current cap hits. Then, it won't seem so ridiculous. It'll be high, but honestly, by then, there'll still probably be a handful of other RBs making about as much or more. And that's when Bush would be hurting his team if he doesn't become a very good RB.

So, to sum up:

-Is Bush's bank account growing much faster than other players with similar or better recent performance? Absolutely yes. So in that sense, he's definitely been 'overpaid' so far.

-Have Bush's salary cap hits been out of line with his performance so far? Not really. He outperformed in his rookie year, then underperformed last year. Overall it's basically been a wash.

-Will his cap hits be out of line with his performance in future years? If he doesn't become a very good RB in the next couple years, yes.

92
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 3:25pm

There are 24 running backs hitting:

12.1 million cap hit this year and 13.5 next year?

I find that very hard to believe…

I really have no idea what you are referring to. I don't recall ever stating that his cap hit in 2008 would be 25th among NFL RBs. It will certainly be higher than that. But it has not been higher than 14th in either of the last two years. Nor has it been as high as Deuce McAllister's cap hit in either year. If you don't believe these two claims, your welcome to click the link in my name and see for yourself.

93
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 7:09pm

"I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. The man ran for 8.7 ypc his junior year at USC."

yes, and lendale white ran for 7 in the same offense, and lendale white SUCKS.

94
by masocc (not verified) :: Sat, 08/23/2008 - 9:09pm

Stakes for the bet:

Loser (winner?) has to do a sit down interview with Raiderjoe (and your readers demand pics! Possibly video!). If y'all are feeling flush, the loser can foot the bill for plane fare.

95
by Tom D (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 1:10am

RE 92:

USA Today has 0 for Reggie's signing bonus hit. I'm about 95% sure that isn't right.

96
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 10:53am

90: Not to mention playing behind an offensive line full of NFL draft picks, something that has contributed to the overrating of numerous running backs -- Michigan in the 1990s is a nice example, as they pumped out numerous NFL offensive lineman and pumped out a bunch of not so good NFL running backs.

The real problem is that Reggie Bush didn't play in the SEC, and therefore doesn't have ESS EEE SEE SPEED.

(Wait, this isn't the "irrational Reggie Bush Arguments" thread?)

97
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 1:24pm

"Actually, Westbrook didn’t even see the ball as much as Bush in his first two years in the league. In his first two seasons he had 46 carries and 117 carries. Bush had more in each of his first two years than Westbrook did in either of his. So there’s still hope."

Westbrook was a 3rd round pick, while Bush was picked 1.2. As a third round pick, you have to earn your playing time. As 1.2, you get carries whether or not your good (See Benson, Cedrick). I don't think comparing carries between two players in completely different situations is valid.

98
by Nathan (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 1:59pm

I'm a Colts fan, and would rather have Addai than Bush, so whatever.

(Bush would probably work pretty well running those stretch plays though)

99
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (aka SJM) (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 3:57pm

All the debates add up to the following indisputable conclusion:

Reggie Bush is a superb athlete who, while useful, has not yet lived up to his expected performance based on his draft standing. He might grow and become an outstanding performer (there is precedent for that), or he might never be better than he is now and ultimately be nothing more than an overpaid but useful role player (there is precedent for that as well). The one thing people should agree on is that it's too early to tell.

100
by Tom Selleck (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 5:42pm

I think a big issue here is that Bush's pro day 40 is likely inflated compared to what he hypothetically would have run at the Combine. If you wanted to get scientific you could compare times by prospects who ran at both the Combine and their pro day and come up with some sort of handicap to weigh the pro day time. If you were to add .07 seconds to Bush's 4.37 40 ran in Los Angeles and factor it into his somewhat lean frame, I'd guess you're looking at a pretty pedestrian Speed Score.

101
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Sun, 08/24/2008 - 9:00pm

Westbrook was a 3rd round pick, while Bush was picked 1.2. As a third round pick, you have to earn your playing time. As 1.2, you get carries whether or not your good (See Benson, Cedrick). I don’t think comparing carries between two players in completely different situations is valid.

It is valid if we're talking about durability, which was the subject of those two posts. Nobody's saying that we should be impressed that his team was willing to give him 150+ carries as a rookie, while Wesbrook didn't break 50. The point was that Westbrook hadn't shown any more durability than Bush had in his first two years. One of the main reasons Westbrook didn't get many carries early in his career was that he got injured every season even without a heavy workload. Even if he had been the undisputed starter at RB, he wouldn't have gotten many more carries than Bush has had, because he would've gotten injured.

And even in his 3rd and 4th years, when he was the undisputed starter at RB, Westbrook had 177 and 156 carries, respectively, and missed time due to injury each year, including 4 games in 2005. So, early in his career, when Westbrook was given 150+ carries, he'd miss roughly 2-3 games a year with injuries. Bush, when given 150+ carries, has missed 4 games in 2 years.

And Westbrook has never had a season with 150+ carries without missing at least one game due to injury. Bush already had such a season in his rookie year. So Bush has shown more durability than Westbrook did early in his career. Of course, that's like saying a QB has shown more mobility than Tom Brady, but still, that was the point of the post.

In his first four years, Westbrook was a RB who couldn't handle more than 150 or so carries/season and still stay healthy enough to play 15+ games a year. However, he's since become a RB who can handle 240+ carries/season while still playing 15 games a year. So it's not unprecedented for a RB who has similar durability concerns as Bush to become significantly more durable later in their career.

102
by Papa Narb (not verified) :: Mon, 08/25/2008 - 11:34am

Does anyone know why all the USC offensive stars from that team have not translated well to the NFL? Off the top of my head, it's not just Bush, but LenDale White, Matt Leinart, Mike Williams and Keary Colbert have all not done too much.

Regarding Bush's salary cap hits. I think it's odd to just say his cap hits his first two years weren't that high, so he was not overpaid. From my understanding, if the contract is structured that way then he is going to see some big escalations in the outer years. Also, if he were to be cut, all the bonus would get accelerated into this year right?

103
by MJHD` (not verified) :: Tue, 08/26/2008 - 5:08am

Calling RaiderJoe: Input required...

104
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 08/26/2008 - 10:44am

"Regarding Bush’s salary cap hits. I think it’s odd to just say his cap hits his first two years weren’t that high, so he was not overpaid. From my understanding, if the contract is structured that way then he is going to see some big escalations in the outer years. Also, if he were to be cut, all the bonus would get accelerated into this year right?"

Yes and Yes.

Also, of note (with Speed Scores in mind), Reggie Bush is listed at 6'0, 203lbs right now. Im pretty sure he was at about 180 when he ran that '4.37'.

For comparison

Reggie Bush: 6'0 203
L. Maroney: 5'11 220
Joseph Addai: 5'11 214

And for Kicks
Brian Westbrook: 5'10 203 (what, is 203 some magical euphemism for "way less than we're listing him at?")

Yeah, Westbrook is the same weight as Bush and 2" shorter. Hes considered frail by many, and hes still more stout than Bush.

105
by KnickerBlogger (not verified) :: Tue, 08/26/2008 - 3:10pm

I say if Bush is UNDER, then Tanier has to purchase a #25 Saints jersey with the name BUST. If Bush is OVER, then Barnwell must purchase a #25 Saints jersey with the name AWESOME on it.

Said jersey must be worn by the purchaser a set amount times per year (once per month? every Sunday during football season?) for X years (1? 2? 3?).

106
by tanner \\\'08 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/26/2008 - 5:08pm

Nothing substantive to add, just thanks for the great post, stuff like this is why I keep coming back to this site.

107
by crack (not verified) :: Wed, 08/27/2008 - 12:20pm

what, is 203 some magical euphemism for “way less than we’re listing him at?”

They probably have a 'special' scale that is only right whenever a player actually ways 203.

108
by Alex51 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/27/2008 - 7:06pm

From my understanding, if the contract is structured that way then he is going to see some big escalations in the outer years.

Yes, and if he's not sufficiently better by the time his cap hit rises, then the Saints will be overpaying him. But the performance he's given the team so far has been roughly worth his cap hits so far, so he hasn't been overpaid yet. Saying, "he's not worth his contract" assumes that he's not going to get significantly better in future years, when his cap hit will rise. And it also assumes that the cap is not going to rise substantially by then. I suspect that both of these assumptions are incorrect.

Also, if he were to be cut, all the bonus would get accelerated into this year right?

And he's not going to get cut, so this is irrelevant.

109
by bryan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/28/2008 - 4:01am

i've watched him go down way too easily from weak arm tackles. i'm a saints fan but unless he can get stronger i don't see him being a top back.

110
by Charles (not verified) :: Thu, 08/28/2008 - 9:33pm

I think what most people miss about Bush isn't that he fails to hit the hole or that he dances too much behind the line. His biggest problem is that he lacks the patience to let his blockers open the holes for him and he runs into the backs of his OLs. Then, after running into his lineman, he has no momentum and can't get outside.

If he paused a beat before charging forward he'd be doing himself a huge favor.

111
by Cary (not verified) :: Mon, 09/01/2008 - 8:50pm

His biggest problem is his anatomy. He might be 200 lbs. but most of that weight is in his upper body; not in his ass and his legs where a successful running back ,ala Marice Jones-Drew, get their power from. And he is what 6' tall? That's a disadvantage running out of the back field at that size with his style, if you ask me. A guy like Darren Sproles is hard to tackle because he is so damn short you can't see him and then he's by you. As long as Reggie can't run past defenses in the NFL he'll never be successful. Future receiver maybe?

112
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 09/02/2008 - 3:00pm

Short backs have lower centers of gravity and generally shorter legs means quicker acceleration although less top end speed. Simple physics really.

Tall backs are overrated, very few have been extremely successful in the NFL.

As far as Bush goes he's a bad blocker, receiver & runner. There is nothing to like about him - at this point in time.

People who want to say he's a good receiver - well sure, he might have good hands, but he doesn't do anything with the ball when he gets it. Under 6 yards per catch is not good by any stretch of the imagination.

I don't think he'll ever be a great back.

Any comparisons to Westbrook are way way off base considering the sample sizes as well in their first two years.

113
by phil (not verified) :: Tue, 09/09/2008 - 4:42am

adrian peterson is 6'1"