How Reggie Bush's Dynamic Presence Impacts Miami Dolphins Offense, Personnel

Erik FrenzSenior Writer ISeptember 17, 2012

Could Miami's offense be off to the races behind running back Reggie Bush?
Could Miami's offense be off to the races behind running back Reggie Bush?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman wanted to implement a pass-happy offense in 2012, perhaps they should reconsider.

Reggie Bush has other plans for this offense. He made the Oakland Raiders look like the Fresno State Bulldogs in 2005 with one big run after another.

Statistically speaking, the performance was superlative. 

Bush posted his second-highest total rushing performance of his career, while his 6.62 yards per attempt were the seventh-best of his career. 

At the very least, his performances have proven that the Dolphins need to remain balanced, and that the threat of the run may be rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's best friend. Bush has emerged as a consistent big-play threat. His seven rushes of 10 yards or more (according to Pro-Football-Reference) rank second in the league behind running backs Frank Gore and Stevan Ridley, who are tied for first with nine apiece.

It's not just the big plays, though. In fact, Bush is tied for third in runs for four yards or more with 20, per PFR.

Things came unraveled for Tannehill in Week 1 when the rookie threw three interceptions in the span of six minutes. The Dolphins know they can't win that way, especially with a rookie quarterback. Thus, the Dolphins should continue to force opponents to respect the running game.

One thing the Dolphins did a lot against the Raiders was throw the ball out of running formations (a lot of 21 personnel—two running backs, one tight end, two wide receivers) with Tannehill taking the snap from under center. Bush's presence in the backfield gave the Dolphins opportunities against man coverage on the outsides.

He and Tannehill combined for 44 rushing yards on eight carries combined (six for Bush, two for Tannehill) on the opening drive, with Tannehill taking in a two-yard scamper for a touchdown off a bootleg.

With 5.5 yards per carry on the opening drive, the Raiders defense was forced to respect the run for the rest of the day. This opened up the passing lanes on the back end for Tannehill, who faced primarily man coverage on the outside with eight men in the box.

On 1st-and-10 at the Raiders 44-yard line following a bad punt by Oakland, the Dolphins lined up with 21 personnel. The Raiders cornerbacks were way off in coverage on wide receivers Davone Bess and Brian Hartline on the outside. 

The Dolphins had been struggling to move the ball, failing to collect a first down on any of the previous four drives. Hartline was the only pass-catcher that Tannehill could rely on. So it made sense that the Dolphins would target him.

Hartline isn't a world-beater at wide receiver, but considering he had been the only threat in the passing game that had worked to that point, it would have made sense for the Raiders to roll coverage in his direction.

They didn't, though, and Hartline got underneath his man for the catch on the sideline right around the first-down marker.

Bush capped that drive off with a 23-yard touchdown, but the best was yet to come.

Two carries later, he broke off a 65-yard gain for another touchdown.

The Dolphins came out in an I formation with the 21 personnel package once again. 

Bush took the handoff off left tackle, getting through the gaping hole created by tight end Anthony Fasano...

...and using lead-blocker Jorvorskie Lane effectively.

But one more thing that jumps out is safety Tyvon Branch, who loses containment.

It's interesting that Branch was caught out of position, essentially because he was playing the run too hard.

CBS analyst Rich Gannon revealed this on the broadcast:

Now watch what [Bush] does to Tyvon Branch, No. 33. See, he has to stay outside. [If] you allow Reggie Bush to break contain, his speed outside will break your back because you're not going to stop him until he gets to the pylon.

The kind of balance they showed out of the 21-personnel set gives promise to the future of the offense, especially if Bush continues his blurring pace. 

This is especially true if the Dolphins remain as balanced overall and as efficient running the ball as they were in Week 2.

If teams don't find a way to stop Bush, life will be a lot easier for Tannehill.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.