Reggie Bush: The Most Underrated Player of This NFL Season

Jordan BallCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 2:   Reggie Bush #22 of Miami Dolphins runs for a gain against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL Game on October 2, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Don't look now, but the former No. 2 draft pick overall, Reggie Bush, is finally hitting his stride in the NFL.

In his first five years in the league, Bush had gone under heavy criticism for his lack of production. After a stellar college career at USC that included National Championships, All-American lists and a Heisman Trophy, among other awards, he didn't exactly live up to the hype that surrounded him.

The once-highlight-film of a running back had turned into more of a punt return specialist/receiver out of the backfield. In his five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, Bush rushed for a total of 1,990 yards. Seeing that people have rushed for more than that in one season, the criticism is understandable. 

Things changed though this offseason. When the Saints selected running back Mark Ingram out of Alabama in the first round of this year's draft, Bush took that as his cue to exit. In late July, Bush was traded to the Miami Dolphins for reserve safety Jonathon Amaya and draft picks. 

Once the season started, Bush's career took off in front of our eyes. The problem is though, no one has seemed to notice. Through Week 16, he has accumulated 1,086 yards on the ground on only 216 attempts. This puts him at ninth in the league, and only 356 yards off the leader, Maurice Jones-Drew.

The most telling stat on how impressive his season has been is that he has rushed for that many yards on only 216 attempts. To put that in perspective, MJD has gotten 318 carries (first in the league).

Along with that, Bush has the fewest attempts out of the 13 backs that have reached the 1,000-yard mark, and even less than three that have yet to reach the mark. 

Bush still splits time with rookie running back Daniel Thomas, who has carried the ball 153 times for 553 yards. Besides teams that have had to share the loads due to injuries like Dallas, Oakland, Houston, etc., the Dolphins have used a dual-back system more than anyone else.

I can see why they would do that, as they would like to get Thomas some experience. My problem is though, when you have a back that is having the season that Bush is having, why not give him a more significant amount of the carries?

Bush's 5.0 average per carry is tops when you look at other team's starters, not to mention he arguably has the best receiving skill set at his position in the league right now due to his role with New Orleans.

The stat that is the least impressive would be his touchdown total, which is six. Though that is tied for his career-high, it's only 18th in the league. In the bigger picture, even that is not that bad though considering the team as a whole only has eight total.

With 75 percent of their rushing TDs and 78 percent of their rushing yards, it's obvious that Bush deserves recognition for the season he his having. With one game to go in the season, Bush could possibly finish in the top five in yards this season if he can have another good game against the New York Jets

Though his season hasn't been legendary, I think we are finally seeing what was expected of him when he first broke into the league. In a pass-first system with the Saints, he didn't get a chance to shine. However, even while splitting time, in his first full chance in a balanced offense Bush has proven he has what it takes to be a legitimate running back.

Only time will tell just how good he can be, but for now his future is looking bright. 


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