Reggie Bush Should Be Traded

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Reggie Bush Should Be Traded

Let's look at the facts before we get all huffy puffy...

Reggie Bush is not an every-down back. He does not run effectively between the tackles. 

He has not consistently continued New Orleans' drives with hard-nosed third-and-short conversions. 

During his final collegiate game in the 2006 Rose Bowl, Pete Carroll substituted LenDale White for the Heisman Trophy winner in short-yardage situations.

Bush's toughness has been questioned by fans, sportswriters, coaches, and former players. Coach Sean Payton gave him an earful on the sidelines during the Chicago game after Bush side-stepped contact and hopped out of bounds instead of lowering his shoulder to push forward a couple of extra yards.

I understand that Reggie Bush has scored 24 touchdowns in 38 career games. I have witnessed Reggie Bush become the most dominant player on the field. 

A closer look at Bush's career statistics reveals a different picture.

The chart below compares Reggie Bush’s career statistics to fellow 2006 draftees DeAngelo Williams and Maurice Jones-Drew. Williams and Jones-Drew, like Bush, are also regarded as undersized running backs.

 

Rushes/Game

Yards/Rush

Rushes/TD

*Touches/TD

% Rushes for 1st down

% Touches for 1st down

Bush

11.0

3.7

34.8

31.5

18.9

24.8

Williams

11.4

5.0

25.7

24.6

22.1

23.2

Jones-Drew

10.8

4.9

14.3

16.5

26.9

30.4

 

* Touches/TD include only touches from scrimmage.  If you include Bush's punt returns, the number drops to 28.4 touches per touchdown.

 

During their careers, Bush, Williams, and Jones-Drew all average about 11 carries per game.  Bush is far less efficient of a player for the Saints than Williams and Jones-Drew are for the Panthers and Jaguars, respectively.

Bush's yards per rush, rushes per touchdown, and touches per touchdown are significantly less than that of his counterparts. Bush also trails his two draft classmates in his percent of carries that result in a first down.

Many Bush supporters emphatically state that his numbers suffer because he plays behind a lesser offensive line than Williams does in Carolina and Jones-Drew does in Jacksonville.

While this may be true, let me remind those supporters of what happened in 2007.

Reggie Bush played in the first 12 games of the season before going down with a season-ending ligament injury.  During that span he averaged 3.7 yards per rush and only 5.7 per reception.

Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker, both of whom went undrafted, teamed up during the final four games to replace Bush. The two backs combined to carry the ball 89 times for 422 yards (4.74 per carry) and score seven total touchdowns.

Thomas has received more extensive action this season, especially lately. Here is a Bush/Thomas comparison in 2008:

 

 

Rushes/Game

Yards/Rush

Rushes/TD

Touches/TD

% Rushes for 1st down

% Touches for 1st down

Bush

10.6

3.8

53

26.3

18.9

26.5

Thomas

8.3

4.7

14.5

13.1

31.9

35.4

 

Pierre Thomas beats Reggie Bush in every category that measure efficiency. He scores more often, and he gets first downs more often.

What else would you ask for in your running back besides pass protection?

Thomas is far better at that, too.

Ball security?

Reggie Bush has at least 11 fumbles in his career while Pierre Thomas has never (knock on wood) fumbled.

 

The NFL is a Business

The Saints would definitely take a cap hit by trading Bush. He has three years remaining on his rookie deal and is scheduled to make $2.225 million, $2.9 million, and $3.575 million in base salary. 

The Saints, though, are desperate for draft picks. 

Due to trades to acquire Sedrick Ellis (2009 third rounder), Jeremy Shockey (2009 second and fifth rounder), and Jonathan Vilma (2009 conditional pick), the Saints have only a few draft picks available to them in the 2009 draft.

New Orleans has many holes to fill on its roster, particularly on defense. The Saints must address needs at safety, outside linebacker, and on the defensive line. 

Dangling Reggie Bush as bait should entice some NFL general managers to offer multiple draft picks, including a first day pick or two.

The Saints are explosive enough on offense to compete for a Super Bowl. Now, they must use their most electrifying player to build a playoff-worthy defense.

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