Who Wears the Crown: Who Is the Best Player for the Miami Dolphins Right Now?

Thomas GaliciaContributor IISeptember 26, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 16:   Reggie Bush #22 of the Miami Dolphins celebrayes a touchdown during a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sun Life Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Sunday, September 23, 2012. 32 seconds left in the first half. The Miami Dolphins are leading the New York Jets 10-3, and will be getting the ball back at the start of the second half.

The Dolphins call a running play up the middle for Reggie Bush. Bush sprints through for four yards before being caught up in the pile, then he takes a helmet to the knee.

He's having problems getting up before finally walking off on his own power. After halftime, he attempts to get back into the game in the second half; he even works out on the stationary bike. The Dolphins' team physicians, however, keep him out of the game. Miami loses in overtime 23-20, getting outscored by the Jets 20-10 after Bush's injury.

Miami wins the game with Reggie Bush healthy for a full 60 minutes. He already ran for 61 yards on 10 carries, while his backup Daniel Thomas ran for 69 yards on 19 carries—and fumbled the ball at the beginning of the third quarter. With Bush out, Miami became more dependent on the pass, despite a rookie quarterback and the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL.

What more do I need to tell you to convince you that Reggie Bush is Miami's best player? His absence changed the complexion of the game.

But that's not the only reason why Reggie Bush is Miami's best player, for the statistics never lie.

Since coming to Miami in a trade with the Saints (a trade where Miami only gave up backup safety Jonathon Amaya and swapped sixth round picks with New Orleans), Bush has been the focal point of the Dolphins' offense. He's started 18 out of 19 games and has run for 1,388 yards on 266 attempts. He's scored eight touchdowns, and last year had five fumbles. This year, he doesn't have any fumbles. 

He's also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield where, since coming to the Dolphins, he's caught 53 passes for 368 yards and a touchdown.

Prior to the season, Bush stated that one of his goals was to win the NFL's rushing crown. It seemed like a goal that was unattainable, considering the Dolphins would be transitioning to a West Coast offense. In addition, there's the fact that Bush has had only had two seasons where he played in more than 11 games (2006 and 2011).

Yet despite a Week 1 where Miami took on a tough rushing defense, and a Week 3 where Bush was out for an entire half, Bush currently ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing, only 21 yards behind Chiefs' running back Jamaal Charles.

So far, Bush is on pace for attaining his goal, assuming his injury isn't too bad (according to CBSSports.com, he shouldn't miss a substantial amount of time).

The Dolphins hope that it isn't, because Bush opens up so much in their offense.

The offense tends to open up and flow when Bush is in the game and effective. Even when he's nowhere near the ball, as long as he's on the field, this team looks a lot better.

Despite the depth in Miami's backfield, Miami can ill-afford to lose Bush. Daniel Thomas is too fumble-prone, and usually goes down on the first contact. Lamar Miller has the potential to be a great all-around running back, but his pass protection leaves much to be desired. Losing Bush meant losing to the Jets.

Of course, we must remember that football is a team sport first and foremost. For most teams, the quarterback is their best player. However, Ryan Tannehill is still young and still needs to develop. While he is the most important player to Miami's future, right now he's far from the best (some might even say he's not even the best quarterback on the team). 

On defense, you could make the case for their two anchors on the defensive line in Cameron Wake and Paul Soliai. Soliai helps create a wall that—thus far—running backs have found to be impenetrable, while every quarterback shakes in fear of Cameron Wake rushing their blind side.

Speaking of blind sides, Miami has two of the best blind side protectors in Jake Long and Richie Incognito. Long is a bit unappreciated outside of Miami as a left tackle, but he manages to keep his quarterback upright. Incognito opens up holes on the left side for the running back to run into, and despite his reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the game, is actually a very clean player that would rather you hurt him before getting past him. I'd even make an argument that Incognito is a bit more valuable to the Dolphins than Long.

But a healthy Reggie Bush means the Dolphins can win in any week. Not only is he their best player, he's also their most important.