How Good of a Football Player Is Reggie Bush?

Mark HauserCorrespondent IIFebruary 17, 2009

I was listening to SportsCenter on ESPN and football analyst Mark Schlereth said that “Reggie Bush is not a good football player.”  He did not say it in such a way that indicated he was saying it to cause controversy or to start a debate, so I am going to take his comment at face value. 

And at face value, this comment seems harsh and inaccurate.  Not a great football player?  Absolutely.  Not a good runner between the tackles?  Yes.  Not an every-down back that you can build a team around.  Correct.  Does not like to get hit?  No doubt.  Not Schlereth’s type of player (tough)?  Obviously. 

But he’s not a good football player?  Sorry, that is going a bit too far in the criticism of Bush.

Lets get the negatives out of the way since I am not disputing them, nor do I think even his biggest fans would.  Schlereth said Bush:  1. Doesn’t run well inside and too often and/or too quickly runs to the outside; and 2. Runs out of bounds instead of making contact with the defender and picking up an extra yard or two for his team.  This last one really bothered Schlereth and he basically accused Bush of not being a team player.  I will leave it up to you to decide to if that is a fair comment.

When Deuce McAllister was injured last year during Bush’s second season Bush’s shortcomings as a running back (listed in the previous two paragraphs) became readily apparent to even the most casual football observer.  His career average for yards per attempt is only 3.7—less than the league average—which is approximately 4.0 ypc.  However, his inability to run well inside the tackles does not tell the whole story in terms of Reggie Bush’s value to a football team.

Bush’s speed, quickness, and dynamic moves make him a threat to score every time he touches the football.  And scoring, he does quite well.  In just 38 games, Bush has scored 24 touchdowns:  12 by rushing, 8 by pass receptions, and 4 by punt returns.  Bush has scored a touchdown an impressive once every 28.4 times he touches the football and every 31.6 times he touches the football from scrimmage.  This is better than the legendary Walter Payton (34.7), for example. 

He is also an excellent receiver (especially in the flat) and punt returner (four touchdowns in 51 returns, 9.8 yards per return).  Plus, Bush has the added intangible that because of his breakaway abilities he commands extra attention from the defense.

You could convince me that Bush is slightly overrated because he is such an exciting player.  But, “not a good football player?”  Try selling that to the defensive players who have been faked out by one of his great moves or could not tackle him because of his explosive speed.