Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reggie Bush is a Detroit Lion

pic: John T. Greilick, AP
The Bush has landed and he couldn’t have found a better place. In 2012 the Detroit Lions sans speedy and pass catching Jahvid Best put a running back platoon on the field consisting of Kevin Smith (FA), Joique Bell and Mikel LeShoure. Individually neither was spectacular, but together their numbers resemble that of a workhorse starting caliber running back.

Kevin Smith and Mikel LeShoure appeared in 13 games each and Joique Bell played in 15. LeShoure dominated the rushing attempts with 215 as Bell became the 3rd down receiving back with 52 receptions. Towards the end of the season it was Bell between the 20’s and LeShoure in the Red Zone as Mikel ultimately became too touchdown reliant for reliable fantasy value. The three running backs combined for 334 rushing attempts and 1,346 yards averaging 93.2 rushing yards a game. 

The key to Reggie Bush’s arrival though is these 3 backs combined for 96 receptions and 778 yards. In Bush’s most productive years in New Orleans he had 88 and 73 receptions over 2006 and 2007 respectively. But who knows what could have been in 2007 when he had 73 receptions as he only played in 12 games at which he was a pace for 97 receptions. So it is possible that Bush could single handedly replace the receiving production of LeShoure, Bell and Smith (FA).

Only 28, it’s not like Bush is in the decline of his career. Bush’s replacement in New Orleans, Darren Sproles is a year and a half older and he’s a dynamic receiving back who has had 86 and 67 receptions respectively in the last two years. Sproles was part of a 4 horse stable in New Orleans with Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory (RFA) and yet a borderline RB1 in PPR leagues.

Still a speedy and shifty runner, Bush averaged 4.7 yards per carry over his two years in Miami though he was underutilized in the passing game. The next two or three years should be very productive for Bush and QB Matthew Stafford. Reggie has one less running back to compete with than Sproles in New Orleans and with Stafford and Brees putting up massive passing attempts and yardage; Bush should relive his form of 2006 and 2007. Over the last two years Brees has attempted 1,327 passes with 890 completions, yet over the same time period and number of games (16 in 2011, 15 in 2012 ea.) Stafford has actually attempted more passes (1,390) and only 1.1 less completion per game over the last two years with 856.

Further helping Bush this upcoming year is Calvin Johnson. Neither Brees nor Sproles has ever played with someone commanding double and sometimes triple teaming. This attention from safeties will further increase Bush’s workload and production out of the backfield.  With LeShoure in the backfield and motioning Bush to the slot with Calvin out wide is a matchup nightmare for line backers and defensive backs.

The Lions are now set up now to get out running and put up points throwing the ball deep to Calvin and checking it down to Bush and then later in the game bringing in LeShoure to pound and lean on the tired defense.  I believe Bush could easily see close to the 200+ (216 and 219) rushing attempts as he did in Miami the last two years while sharing carries with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.  After all they didn’t bring him in to be the 3rd wheel. He offers characteristics of both LeShoure and Bell, yet is more polished than and faster than both.  Jahvid Best in 2010 had 172 rushes in 15 games and he is not built like Reggie; but he did have 58 receptions. 

This is set up for another “smash and dash” as Lions coach Jim Schwartz had in Tennessee with Lendale White and Chris Johnson. The Lions are going to force defenses hands now and take what they give. ‘You want to take away Calvin, we’ll pound the rock or check it down, you want to crowd the box and roll the safety, we’ll take our chances as we always have and let Calvin go get it.’

Reggie Bush - 2013 Projection

192 Rush Attempts 705 Rushing Yards and 6 TD’s

79 Receptions 552 Receiving Yards and 4 TD’s

RB1/RB2 in PPR

RB2/Flex in Standard