Why Michael Bush Should Be the Focal Point of the Raiders Offense

Ramone BrownSenior Writer IJune 23, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 15: Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the NFL pre-season game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field August 15, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

First, I know there are people who will disagree with me; many believe the main focus of our offense should be one of our first-round draft picks, either QB JaMarcus Russell or the elusive HB Darren McFadden

I'm sure there are even Justin Fargas supporters who believe he has earned the right, as he is a true Raider through and through and bleeds silver and black.

Here, I will explain why Bush is better suited for the job.

Getting to know Michael Bush

In high school, this guy was a beast, seeing action at quarterback, safety, cornerback, linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver, and return man.

His senior year, he completed 190 of 304 for 2,891 yards and 35 TDs. He rushed 131 times for 911 yards and seven TDs, and he caught 17 passes for 152 yards and three TDs.

He received numerous awards and was ranked as the 14th best prospect by scout.com.

Fast forward to his junior year in college, where he rushed for 1,143 yards on 205 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, scored 23 rushing touchdowns, and led NCAA Division I-A in scoring.

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His senior year, he was the preseason leading candidate to receive the Heisman trophy until he broke his leg in the first game of the 2006 season. He was then drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round and placed on the PUP list.

Now, he is an intimidating force in the Raiders' backfield.

There are many reasons why Michael Bush is the leading candidate to build the offense around.

No. 1: Bush has superior vision

Film shows he obviously has the best "running vision," as he is great at following blockers and using patience waiting for plays to develop, unlike other Raider running backs.

Fargas, though he hits the hole hard, is often seen barreling into the backs of his own linemen; McFadden, who is often too quick to rely on his speed, has been known to outrun blockers or bounce plays outside too early.

Great "vision" is an attribute Bush shares with many of the game's top backs: Steven Jackson, Marshall Faulk, and most notably Emmitt Smith. Emmitt's great career can easily be attributed to his ability to rely on his linemen, while using his vision and patience to allow plays to develop.

No. 2: Bush has superior power for running between the tackles

Maybe Bush doesn't hit the hole as hard as Fargas, but what good does it do if you're stopped for a short gain because you ran into one of your own players? Anyway, Bush has 30 pounds on Fargas and still has comparable speed. 

McFadden's power running ability is questionable. Sure, he is a big kid at 6'2'' and 215 pounds, and he has shown some promise in between the tackles, but on the other hand, he has also been stopped dead in his tracks, where Bush would have likely fallen forward for an extra yard or two. 

But I guess, to credit McFadden, his power (like his speed) may have been hampered by turf toe. Still, he would be my last choice in third and short, while Bush, at 6'1'' and 245 pounds, would be an easy choice in short yardage or goal line situations.

No. 3: Bush has the speed to get it done

Though he obviously doesn't have blazing speed like McFadden, he does have remarkable speed for his size, easily comparable to Fargas (who ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash).

Bush has great "game time speed," which was on display during his 32-yard run against Kansas City in Week Two, then again in a 67-yard run Week 17 against Tampa Bay.

No. 4: Bush may be the most durable

He broke his leg his senior year, but the injury is less serious than it sounds. One fact about broken bones is that they become stronger than ever and become nearly impossible to break in the same spot, when allowed time to heal properly.

Aside from his leg, Bush has a clean bill of health, which can't be said for the other two halfbacks. 

Fargas' running style (upright with a narrow base) leaves him open to injury, and age seems to be catching up to him.

McFadden has had minor injuries throughout college, and he was hampered in his rookie year by a turf toe injury he suffered in Week Two. On top of that, he had surgery on a mystery shoulder injury said to have been bothering him all season. 

Limiting McFadden's carries by utilizing Bush's abilities more will only make the team better by increasing McFadden's chance of staying healthy for the duration of the season.

No. 5: He has the best intangibles

The other guys have speed and power. How is Bush any better?

Easy—he has skills they don't have. Vision is a skill that can be learned with experience, but it can't be coached, and some players never develop it at all. 

Second, Bush can throw the ball, a skill not common among HBs, making him a triple threat out of the backfield; he can run with the ball, catch passes, and even throw the ball. This makes him effective for trick plays like the wildcat (or Wildhog) formation.

Next, of the three backs, he is the most effective blocking and protecting the QB.  The Raiders even wanted to use his skills at FB, leading the way for the other HBs.

With this skill, he is a likely candidate to play in passing downs. He even has great hands and can be used in check-down routes if nothing develops down field.

With McFadden likely to see time in the slot, this makes Bush's skills even more valuable as a blocker. In a scenario where Bush is in the backfield and McFadden is in the slot, McFadden can either be a dangerous receiver or an effective decoy for a draw play to Bush. 

No. 6: When Bush gets the ball, we win

Out of all of our running backs, he has the most punishing running style; not only because he is a heavy load to take down, but because his patience allows for downfield blocks to develop, increasing the chances of a big play, tiring out defenders, and eating up clock. 

Not only that, but here's a cool fact about Michael Bush and the Raiders: When he gets 15 or more carries, the Raiders are undefeated. Sure, it's a circumstantial fact, but hey, it makes you think, doesn't it?

Why should the offense be built around Michael Bush, a HB, rather than JaMarcus Russell, a QB?

I believe I've successfully argued why Bush is the most well-rounded and effective HB, but I haven't really argued why he should be the focal point over first overall draft pick and "franchise QB" JaMarcus Russell.

Last I checked, the Raiders were a run-first team, so it's no secret the ground game will overshadow the air game.

JR is still unproven, though many fans will argue he showed a lot of promise over the final six games of the season. That doesn't mean anything; he is still an unfinished product.

The best thing for the team is to allow him to develop further while being carried by a dominant ground game.