There is no question that Reggie Bush is a dangerous threat when the ball is in his hands. He has the potential to turn a short gain into an explosive dash down field. Yet, in his third season, Bush has yet to fully grasp the concept of running forward through the line.
When he is in the backfield as a running back, Bush tends to dance around in the backfield before even crossing the line of scrimmage. This tends to lead to negative yards or limits him to a short gain. If he is to be considered a legitimate and consistent running back, he must cross the line of scrimmage first and foremost before trying to make something happen.
As a wide receiver, Bush is already running downfield and in an open area to try something to take the defense off guard. In the backfield, he has a limited area to work with. The holes that the offensive line is opening for him can only be contained for a short period of time. Bush has to hit those holes and with authority, not try to improve the play.
Bush would be best served to learn by watching. Take a look at how fellow teammates Deuce McAllister and Pierre Thomas run the ball. He should watch tape of other running backs that suit his style of play and his attributes, players like LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Willie Parker, Gale Sayers, and Barry Sanders. Bush must take a page from other players in order to adapt his skills to the NFL.
Bush has to learn that this is no longer college football; these professional players are faster and smarter than collegiate defenses he has played against. One would think that being in his third year as a pro that he would have learned this by now. Yet, Bush continually tries relentlessly to create a touchdown every time he runs the ball.
If he cannot learn his lesson by season’s end, the team should simply look at moving him primarily to the wide receiver position. They could still put him in the backfield for particular plays and match-ups, but as a receiver he would be a more dependable threat.
With Drew Brees at quarterback, he could throw the ball downfield to Bush regularly instead handing it off or throwing a quick pass to him three yards from the line of scrimmage (which tends to lead to a loss, because the league has caught on to that particular play).
Just the thought of Marques Colston on one side, Bush on the other, and Jeremy Shockey at tight end makes me smile from ear to ear.
Of course for this to work, McAllister needs to be healthy and return to usual form as well as Thomas to develop into a complete running back. Both of these things could happen, but ideas always look better on paper.
Bush is a smart player and a hard worker. He has gotten better with his downfield running, but still reverts to dancing more than running forward. If he can continue to refine his running, he could be the greatest threat the Saints and the NFL has seen in quite sometime. If not, he will just be another great athlete who just couldn’t adjust to the constantly evolving game of professional football.