8 Reasons Reggie Bush Will Not Contend for a Rushing Title in 2012
"I want the rushing title," he told the Sun Sentinel.
It's great to see Bush aim so high, but does he really have a shot at capturing the NFL's rushing crown?
In a word—no.
Bush had a tremendous 2011 season, and he played like an absolute stud in Weeks 13 through 16. But, don't overlook his inefficient play prior to that span, or his poor pass blocking, or the arrival of Lamar Miller.
Simply put: there are too many factors working against Bush in order for him to achieve this goal.
The Dolphins' Offensive Line Is Still Influx
A running back can't win the rushing title without a great offensive line.
The Dolphins offensive line is not great. Not right now, anyway.
Jake Long and Mike Pouncey are staples, and we know they'll provide Pro Bowl caliber play (assuming Pouncey doesn't hit a sophomore slump).
But, the same definitely can't be said for the rest of the line. Two unproven, inexperienced tackles—Lydon Murtha and Jonathan Martin—will duel for the starting right tackle job. The Dolphins still need to find a starting-caliber right guard. And, Richie Incognito needs to prove he's capable of excelling in the West Coast offense, which will be challenging for a player of his size.
There's a small chance Miami's line exceeds expectations, but I'm not banking on it, and Reggie Bush shouldn't either.
Bush Will Be Utilized More in the Passing Game in the West Coast Offense
The Dolphins underutilized Bush's versatility last season, but that won't happen in 2012. In the West Coast offense, running backs play a significant role in the passing game, which wasn't the case in Tony Sparano's scheme.
Bush will be targeted out of the backfield often, much like he was in New Orleans. Expect to see him run an abundance of screen, swing and delayed routes. He may see even more targets because the Dolphins are so thin at wide receiver.
Reggie can only play so many snaps in a game, and it's highly doubtful he'll receive the number of carries necessary to win a rushing title.
Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller Will Cut into Bush's Workload
Injuries limited Daniel Thomas for most of the 2011 season, allowing Reggie Bush to see increased touches.
That won't happen this year.
Thomas is returning with a clean bill of health and a chip on his shoulder. Plus, he's the only big-bodied running back on the roster, so he might earn short-yardage and goal line duties.
And then, there's fourth round pick Lamar Miller, an explosive and electric back who will demand some playing time.
No rushing title champion has split time with another back, let alone two.
Bush Can't Handle the Workload Required to Win a Rushing Title
In six NFL seasons, Reggie Bush has managed to play a full 16 game slate only once.
The last time a rushing title champ who didn't play 16 games was Emmitt Smith in 1993. And, let's be real: Reggie is no Emmitt, and he never will be. On top of that, the last five rushing champs registered an average of 341 carries.
Bush's career high is 216.
Bush has to defy the odds to play a full season, and has to defy even greater odds to shoulder the workload necessary for a rushing title.
Despite Last Season's Performance, Bush Still Isn't an Every-Down Back
When the Saints drafted Reggie Bush with the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, everybody expected him to become a transcendent and generational talent. So, naturally, everybody expected him to be an "every-down back."
But, in retrospect, that was ignorant. Bush never had the physical build to withstand such a role, yet that term resurfaced when the Dolphins dealt for Reggie last summer.
Bush said the Dolphins were the only team that wanted him as an "every-down back," but he still only registered 216 carries. Simply put: Reggie's 6'0", 200 pound build, coupled with his shifty, speedy running style, prevent him from playing an every-down back role.
The Dolphins need a player who can punish defenders and smash the ball in between the tackles—and Bush just doesn't have that in his bag of tricks.
Competition for the Rushing Title Will Be Steep
If Reggie Bush wants a realistic shot at the rushing title, then he needs to outperform names like LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, and reigning champ Maurice Jones-Drew.
All of these backs are focal points in their respective offenses, and all of them have proven they can shoulder massive workloads.
Even if Reggie has an unbelievable season, it's tough to envision him outplaying these stars.
Reggie Bush Is Not an Efficient Pass Blocker, and He'll Lose Reps Because of It
Like I said earlier, if Reggie wants to win the rushing title, then he has to be on the field at all times.
But, given his poor pass blocking skills, that won't happen.
According to Pro Football Focus's calculations, Bush was the fifth least effective pass blocking running back in the NFL last season. He allowed nine total pressures including two sacks, four hits and three hurries.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins relied heavily on Daniel Thomas for pass protection, keeping him in to block on 79 of 177 passing play snaps.
Reggie has a legendary work ethic, so let's hope he's been busy shoring up those pass blocking issues. Otherwise, Daniel Thomas (and Lamar Miller if he shows solid pass blocking skills) will cut into Bush's workload even more.
Reggie Wasn't All That Great in 2011
Reggie Bush had an outstanding 2011 campaign. No doubt about it. He played a pivotal role in the Dolphins' midseason resurrection, and he dispelled all notions questioning his dedication to football.
All of these factors made Reggie a fan favorite in Miami.
But, please, don't forget how poorly Bush played for most of the season. If you negate his last four games, this is what his season stat-line looks like: 133 carries, 567 yards and four touchdowns.
Reggie had some absolutely abysmal performances (10 carries, 13 yards vs. Cleveland; 14 carries, 47 yards vs. Washington), and it's important that everybody realizes this before smothering Bush with absurd expectations.
And, this considered, Bush's chances of capturing the rushing crown in 2012 are very, very slim.