Reggie Bush, Is He Who We Thought He Was?

Samuel Bell JrSenior Analyst IMay 27, 2008

We all can remember the 2006 NFL Draft when we expected the Houston Texans to pick Reggie Bush, the Running Back from the University of Southern California.

After all, Reggie was one of those once-in-a-lifetime type players that couldn't be passed up, right?

Once ESPN revealed that the Texans would take DE Mario Williams from North Carolina State, many of us couldn't believe it.

The infamous Mel Kiper Jr. went on and on about how the Texans made such a big mistake, and that Reggie Bush was basically a Godsend for the New Orleans Saints.

After watching Reggie juke and hop over defenders at USC, who could blame him? Bush could return punts, catch out of the backfield and was elusive as a fly in the middle of a summer picnic.

This pick couldn't be wrong, right? Post Hurricane Katrina, a gaff like the one the Texans made by picking Williams would uplift the downtrodden New Orleans fans and bring that winning attitude back to "Naw'lins" right?

Not so fast.

Reggie's first season was somewhat of a disappointment, but the collective team success made many people forget that. Drew Brees and Deuce McAllister were studs, not to mention other guys such as Marques Colston who emerged that season with career numbers.

Here are the numbers from Reggie Bush's rookie season:

Games- 16

Rushing- 155 Carries, 565 Yards, 3.6 YPC, 6 TD, 2 Fumbles

Receiving- 88 Rec., 742 Yards, 8.4 Per Rec., 2 TD

Punt Return- 28 Ret., 216 Yards, 7.7 Per Ret., TD

These numbers weren't bad considering the fact that Reggie was a rookie playing behind an established starter in Deuce McAllister, and he contributed largely to the passing game.

Maybe we expected a lot more from the second pick of the NFL draft, but contrastingly Mario Williams and Vince Young struggled in their rookie campaigns also.

But Reggie Bush was different, his talent was such a sure thing and we all wanted to see another Thurman Thomas, a legend many compared Reggie's versatility as a running back to.

Unfortunately for Bush, the expectations were too high, and in this age of sports we want instant gratification, like we saw from LeBron James.

New Orleans went 10-6 that season, and just missed the Super Bowl with a loss to the Chicago Bears in which Reggie Bush had 7 receptions for 132 yards and a TD in that game.

His great postseason performance had us clamoring for his 2007 campaign, but his numbers went down.

Deuce McAllister went down for the season with a knee injury, and the Saints had no choice but start Reggie Bush as running back for the season, but he didn't deliver.

Before his season injury ended his year, Reggie was already losing playing time to Aaron Stecker, a seldom-used back who actually played well once he took over, but it wasn't enough.

The Saints struggled to a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs.

Here are the numbers for Reggie Bush's 2007 season:

Games- 12

Rushing- 157 Carries, 581 Yards, 3.7 YPC, 4 TD, 7 Fumbles (3 lost)

Receiving- 73 Rec., 417 Yards, 5.7 Per Rec., 2 TD

Punt Return- 3 Ret., 12 Yards, 4.0 Per Ret., 0 TD

To his credit, Reggie missed the last four games of the season, and didn't return as much because of his increased role in the offense.

Nevertheless, Bush never looked to be comfortable with his increased responsibilities in Sean Payton's offense and his 7 fumbles were costly.

Now we are left with more questions than answers.

Can Reggie Bush be what everyone expected him to be? Will he end up a bust?

Only time will tell, but the first pick from the 2006 draft made his mark last season with 14 sacks and 59 tackles. Mario Williams lived up to his billing last season for an emerging Houston Texan team.

It's unfair to label Reggie Bush a bust at this point because it just hasn't been enough time, and who knows how long he played injured last season.

With the 2008 NFL season quickly approaching, I ask one simple question in the spirit of former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green:

Is Reggie Bush who we thought he was?


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