NFL morning after: This is the Reggie Bush we’ve been waiting for


It’s been eight years now, so you can be forgiven if you’ve forgotten, but there was a time when Reggie Bush wasn’t just expected to be a good NFL player, wasn’t even expected to be a great NFL player, but was expected to be a transcendent NFL player. When Bush was running wild at USC in 2005, people talked about him like he was going to be some combination of Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers in the NFL, a player who had the talent to be the NFL’s best running back, the NFL’s best slot receiver and the NFL’s best kick returner, all in one package.

It didn’t happen, for a variety of reasons ranging from the fact that the team that drafted Bush, the Saints, really didn’t need him to be an every-down running back, to the fact that it was basically impossible for anyone to live up to the kinds of expectations that were on Bush coming out of college.

But what has happened in this, Bush’s eighth NFL season and first with the Lions, is that we’re finally getting the Reggie Bush we’ve been waiting for. The Lions have the right offense to take advantage of Bush’s skills, both as a runner and as a receiver, to get him the ball in space and to let him cut and spin and start and stop and hurdle and sprint to the end zone.

Bush did all of that and more on Sunday against the Bears, a game that might have been the best of his NFL career. Bush had 18 carries for 139 yards and added four catches for 34 yards, but those numbers don’t do justice to how electrifying he was. Bush’s 37-yard touchdown, on which he took a handoff up the middle, ran past defensive end Cornelius Washington before bouncing to the outside, hurdled safety Major Wright and then outraced cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman to the end zone was one of the most beautiful plays of this NFL season.

The Lions have made Bush their featured back in the running game and are giving him plenty of opportunities to carry the ball, and they’re also throwing him a lot of passes, not just out of the backfield but lined up as a slot receiver. Opposing defenses give so much respect to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson that Bush isn’t going to see many eight-man fronts, and he’s going to have a lot of room to make plays all season. Bush has only played two and a half games so far because he missed half of Week Two and all of Week Three with a knee injury, and durability will have to be a concern for Bush in Detroit, just as durability is a concern for any running back who gets the kind of workload the Lions are giving Bush. But if he can stay healthy the rest of the way, he has the potential to lead the league in yards from scrimmage, and lead the Lions to the playoffs.

Bush was my favorite player in any game on Sunday. Here are my other thoughts from Sunday’s games:

The Jets need to do more pushups. With all the Jets’ penalties last week, Rex Ryan implemented a new policy that whenever anyone committed a penalty in practice, everyone had to do pushups. It didn’t work. The Jets committed 10 more penalties on Sunday. Through four games this season, the Jets have committed 44 penalties, putting them on pace to commit 176 this year. The all-time NFL record is 163 penalties in a season, set by the Raiders two years ago.

Chip Kelly needs to be Chip Kelly. The reason I was so excited about Kelly leaving Oregon to coach the Eagles was that we had never seen a coach like Kelly in the NFL before. But while the Eagles’ fast-paced offense is fun to watch, for the most part I see Kelly coaching in Philadelphia like he did in college. At Oregon, Kelly wasn’t afraid to go for it on fourth down from anywhere on the field. But on Sunday in Denver, when the Eagles had a fourth-and-6 at Denver’s 37-yard line while trailing 21-13, Kelly took a delay of game penalty and then punted. Why not go for it? You’re playing the best team in the NFL on the road. You’re going to need to take some chances to pull the upset. I didn’t see the Eagles taking many chances on Sunday, when they punted four times, attempted three field goals and never went for it on fourth down despite trailing all game. Although the Eagles went for it on fourth-and-1 and got the first down on their first drive of the season, in the opening Monday night at Washington, Kelly has gone for it on fourth down just once since that very first drive. It’s disappointing to see Kelly turn into a conventional, risk-averse NFL coach.

Sean Lee is that rarest of creatures, an underrated Cowboy. Usually players on America’s Team are overhyped, but if anything Lee, a linebacker in his fourth year in Dallas, doesn’t get enough hype. Lee’s 2012 season was cut short by a toe injury after six games, but this year Lee is looking healthy and faster than ever, as he displayed on his 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Lee did get beaten in coverage on a touchdown by Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, but that play aside he’s having a strong season, and if he stays healthy he’ll make his first Pro Bowl.

Kiko Alonso leads the league in interceptions. Alonso, the Bills’ second-round draft pick out of Oregon this year, came into Sunday’s game with two interceptions on the season and added two more of Joe Flacco in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. He now has four, tied with Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib and Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner for the most of any player in the NFL through four weeks. In addition to his interceptions, Alonso has been a tackling machine. The Bills look like they got a keeper. Alonso’s college coach Chip Kelly should have drafted Alonso in Philadelphia — the Eagles need all the help on defense they can get.

As usual, the Super Bowl hosts stink. The Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey at the end of this season, and we won’t be having any talk about a team playing a Super Bowl on its home field, as the Giants are 0-4 and the Jets are an ugly 2-2. This is probably more a coincidence than anything else, but the Super Bowl host team almost always has a lousy season. No Super Bowl host team has even made the playoffs since Tampa Bay in 2000, and not only has no team ever played in the Super Bowl on its own home field, but no team has ever even reached the conference championship in a postseason when the Super Bowl was on that team’s home field. The Cardinals host next season’s Super Bowl, the 49ers the year after that and the Texans the year after that. Sorry to fans in Arizona, San Francisco and Houston, but you can probably pencil in a disappointing season for your teams when the Super Bowl is coming to town.

Adrian Peterson breaks long runs like no one else, ever. Peterson’s 60-yard touchdown on Sunday was his 12th touchdown of 60 yards or more. No one else in NFL history has had even 10 touchdown runs of 60 or more yards. Jim Brown, who had nine 60-yard touchdown runs, is second in NFL history.

Peyton Manning is amazing. I know I said earlier that Bush was my favorite player in the NFL on Sunday, but I should probably add that I could say that about Manning every Sunday. Manning completed 28 of 34 passes for 327 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Eagles, and he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. His 16 touchdown passes are the most ever for any quarterback four weeks into the season. The Broncos have scored 179 points through four games, putting them on pace for 716 points this season, which would obliterate the 2007 Patriots’ NFL record of 589. This may be Manning’s best year yet — an amazing thing to say about a guy who has four league MVP awards.

35 responses to “NFL morning after: This is the Reggie Bush we’ve been waiting for

  1. Yes, Peyton Manning looks amazing……Then he can’t do what he’s done in the regular season in the playoffs year after year after year. The only reason he has a ring at all is because of Bob Sanders and the Indy defense that one year.

  2. If the Saints and Doltphins used Reggie like the Lions are usjng him, then he would have been posting these same numbers long ago. Dont fault the guy because bad offensive coaching decions

  3. .

    When Reggie Bush played for the Dolphins, they ran him between the tackles early and often. He’s not just a third down guy or a change of pace back.

  4. Smarterthanyou says:
    Sep 30, 2013 7:33 AM
    If the Saints and Doltphins used Reggie like the Lions are usjng him, then he would have been posting these same numbers long ago. Dont fault the guy because bad offensive coaching decions

    Saints used him like they did partly because of his propensity to get hurt. When he did play, he played well and they won a Super Bowl.

  5. If defenses don’t figure out the Broncos quick, it’s going to be a long, dreadful season for most of the rest of the AFC.

  6. If the saints were using him? Sean P tried his best to incorporate Reggie. At the time he was a flex option at best. He ran 10 yards back to gain 2 yards. He did more side to side dancing and strutting than forward progress. He had one game as a saint during the 09 run against the cardinals in the divisional round where we were sitting in the stands and thought finally Reggie arrived he had a complete game. And then that was it. He disappeared the rest of the playoffs. Look best of luck to him. I hope he becomes the complete back. But he wasn’t ready in New Orleans.

  7. Reggie Bush is a journeyman. Now that he has put a few games on film, NFL defenses that are geared up to stop Calvin Johnson will begin to shut him down. Get ready for more fumbles and less time on the field due to injury.

  8. As dominant as the Broncos and Seahawks look right now, let’s not forget that it’s only Week 4. And really, can anyone remember the last time both #1 seeds reached the Super Bowl? I sure can’t.

  9. @noring4youstill
    I can’t speak to his running style early in his career, but one of the most impressive things so far from his time in Detroit is the way makes one move in the hole and goes. Moving up the field at all times.

    Interesting how, for once, a RB had time to learn without taking monster punishment. He’s got his 28 y/o mind with a 24 y/o NFL rb body.

  10. Even as a Pats fan, I can admire the sheer poetry coming out of the Denver Offense right now. It’s ridiculous. If they can keep this up against defenses like KC, how can anyone not expect them to go 16-0?

    Well, hopefully 15-1, since they play the Pats, but I’ve already marked that game down as an awesome to win but I’m not sure I’m going to expect one.

  11. “Dont fault the guy because bad offensive coaching decions”


    Sean Payton had a top ranked offense and won a super bowl while reggie bush was in new orleans. I’m pretty sure he’s ok with his offensive coaching decisions.

  12. Credit the Lion’s front office for targeting Bush as the piece they had to have knowing he would work so well in their offense. Love having him. He is lucky Calvin covered that fumble the play before the TD, though. The Lions are lucky. Might have affected the outcome.

  13. Kudos to Bush on his capitalization of Mel Tucker & his god awful defensive scheming deciding to stunt on the defensive line & totally allow the Lions to wash down on the Bears D-Lineman who already stunted themselves out of the play. Reggie just ran through the hole that Tucker created & made them pay for it. 2nd half Bush ran for 13 yards after the Bears abandoned the stunt by the D-Line. What I’m saying is that this game was more about Mel Tucker making awful play calls on the defensive end which allowed Bush to get 100+ in the first half & Cutler being Same Ol’ Jay that single handedly gave them this win. It’s FOOLS GOLD PEOPLE!!

  14. Intriguing season, so far. Perennial stalwarts like Steelers and Giants look woefully inadequate, preseason favorites like SF and GB don’t seem so flawless and KC and the Chargers seem rejuvenated with new coaches. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the Lions are showing done resiliency and talent. Bush is playing like a Heisman contender, the OL has gelled and the Suh/Fairly combo is dominating. LBs and safeties are better than expected, too. The corners are still inadequate but, IF the team remains relatively healthy and IF Stafford can play with more consistent smarts and precision, the Lions will be an entertaining playoff dark horse.

  15. You act like we’ve never seen Reggie Bush have a monster game. Let’s see him put a few of those together and come through the season injury-free.

    Having said that, he sure looks good, and kudos to him for sticking it out through a lot of frustration and media BS and learning to how to be an NFL back.

  16. I didn’t see the Lions game yesterday, but I Reggie Bush’s game against the Cardinals in the 2009 playoffs was a thing of beauty as well.

  17. Smarter than who? I’ll take Payton’s decisions and his Lombardi trophy over anything Detroit and The Schwartz has to offer.

  18. Yes…Peyton Manning is amazing & I’m not taking anything away from him but how great is Tom Brady? I mean come on…No Welker, no Gronk, no Amendola? And he’s doing it with Kembrell Thompkins who was is an UNDRAFTED rookie? Are you kidding me? It’s a joke how good he is. And I’m a Dolphin fan!!! Please retire soon.

  19. BTW–The talent is there with Reggie BUT for whatever reason he simply can’t sustain his health for an entire season. Even last year with the Dolphins he started out on fire & then got hurt. He still played but his production plummeted & he wasn’t close to the same player. As the season went he eventually got healthy & then started kicking butt again.

  20. If the Saints and Doltphins used Reggie like the Lions are usjng him, then he would have been posting these same numbers long ago. Dont fault the guy because bad offensive coaching decions


    Bad offensive coaching decisions??? Bush couldn’t stay healthy & the last time I checked the Saints have one of the best offensive HC’s/minds in football. Remember that SB he won?

  21. I’m wondering how Payton Manning will look once the weather gets extremely cold, whether in Denver or one of the other AFC outdoor stadiums.
    By the end of the playoff game against Baltimore last year, he had nothing left. It was so cold, the fans would go to the interior of the stadium to warm up.

  22. ghost26 says: Sep 30, 2013 10:28 AM : “Yes…Peyton Manning is amazing & I’m not taking anything away from him but how great is Tom Brady?”

    Simple natural experiment: compare the Pats the year before Brady’s injury and their record with essentially the same staff when he did not play to the Colts with the same scenario to see the quarterbacks worth to their team: Pats with Brady 2007: 16-0, 2008 without Brady 11-5, Colts with Manning:2010 10-6 2011 without Manning 2-14

    Case closed

  23. Peyton Manning is successful because he is the smartest and hardest working QB that’s played in the NFL. Having the talent he posses probably isn’t hurting either. Just gotta say, “Thanks again Archie!” Thanks for your courage when suffering with the Saints and thanks for the smarts and good parenting skills you have shown with your kids. Parents aught to take a look!

  24. Reggie Bush was used just fine in Miami when he wasn’t hurt. Two time AFC player of the week. Check the stats. He had some monster games for the Fins, equivalent to the game this guy is raving about. Let him do this consistently and then start talking about how he finally being used right.

  25. Simple natural experiment: compare the Pats the year before Brady’s injury and their record with essentially the same staff when he did not play to the Colts with the same scenario to see the quarterbacks worth to their team: Pats with Brady 2007: 16-0, 2008 without Brady 11-5, Colts with Manning:2010 10-6 2011 without Manning 2-14

    Case closed

    Not quite closed. You have to look at more than just simple. Roster changes, player capabilities, strength of schedule, etc. Lets review.

    The Pats the year prior had only the second perfect regular season in NFL history and almost the only perfect 18 game single season win record. Without much of a roster shift, being lead by a QB who had 3 yrs behind Brady to learn the system and was bolstered by a strong offense with the Welker/Moss duo an 11-5 record is not unthinkable, especially for a BB run system.(Sorry if I favor his system/schemes but he has proven to me he is one of the best if not the best coaches, currently.) The NE Pats also had the easiest SoS in ’08 with a .387 average(99-157), which is one of the lowest I’ve ever seen.

    Between ’10-’11 The Colts didn’t change their roster much besides not having Peyton and their team was coming off of a 10-6 season. They had a decent cast of players in Wayne, Bethea and Clark(who was later injured) but the prior season was very dependant on Peyton’s control of the offense and his synergy with Wayne along with the Freeney/Mathis combo for defense. In ’10 they were tied for 10th hardest SoS with a .516(132-124). In ’11 the Colts picked up retired QB Kerry Collins to start but he was new to everything Colts and had to learn and build team trust. The problem was Collins was hit with a concussion in game 3 and was replaced by Curtis Painter, a QB who had 2 years behind Peyton Manning. He knew the system a bit better and had more rapport with much of the offense than Collins but it still wasn’t enough to get more than 2 wins out of the remaining 13 games. Their SoS for that year was tied for the third hardest at .520(133-123). Caldwell ran a great system and Peyton made it amazing but with rotating QBs and the harder schedule it’s understandable why they would lose as many games.

    Other things to note, due to Spygate in 2008 the Patriots lost their first round pick. Would it have made much impact, probably not, but you never know. Football is a team sport, while one player can make a big difference they cannot be the “solution” the same way some players are in, for example, Basketball. Who you are surround by makes a big difference. Who you play is also more important than some people admit. A 38.7 aggregate win % vs a 52 win % for opponents over the season does make a difference. Any given Sunday, really… except maybe for this years Broncos. I’m not a supporter of trade/FA veto’s like in the NBA but seriously, who let this offense get put together?

    Some final stats: Cassel ’08: 63.4 pc%, 3693 yds, 22TD/11INT, 89.4 rating.
    Collins ’11: 49 pc%, 481 yds, 2/1, 65.9 rating.
    Painter ’11: 54.3 pc%, 1541 yds, 6/9, 66.6 rating.

    The Pats just had a backup ready for if Brady did go down. I’m sure being surrounded by talent and the easy schedule helped Cassel achieve those numbers but he was prepared to step in where the other two did not seem up to the challenge. It wasn’t just a question of the QB being gone and the schedule being skewed. It was a myriad or small variables that lead to the differences so you can not use that to gauge the difference between the two. In fact I don’t think there is a way because they are both very skilled in most if not all relevant ways and expertly skilled in different areas. In the end though they are legendary first ballot HoF’ers that join the conversation of who really is the best QB in NFL history. A question that will probably never be answered.

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