The Evolution of Bush's Role... (1 Viewer)

Danchrism

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The date was April 28th, 2006. We'd just found out that Mario Williams and the Texans had bumped heads and struck a deal, leaving the Saints free to take any other player on the board. For many, this automatically meant to take Reggie Bush; with Deuce McAllister's recovery status from his 2005 injury uncertain, drafting Reggie Bush would at least give us a threat in the running game should his injury problems become recurring.

So we take Bush, and for once in New Orleans, we seemingly did something right on the sports scene. Widely viewed as a big-threat player, wild speculation followed; many had already penned him in as rookie of the year, many said he'd replace Deuce as the starter by the end of training camp, still others thought he'd go deep into the four-digits in yards from scrimmage as well as serving as a threat in the return game.

Training camp hits, following an unsuccessful appeal to the league to wear his franchisioned (I made that word up) #5 (now figure out what it means). Everyone is excited, reports out of camp are that he's looking extremely good at taking handoffs, although his role is still clear as mud. Will he supplant Deuce, or will he be a spell back? August 12th rolls around, and on Bush's second run of the preseason, everyone supposedly sees just how great he will be. His other five runs would net him 15 yards (3 ypc); for the preseason, his other 18 runs would net him 58 yards (3.2 ypc). Despite these numbers, the popular decision is that Bush will perform well in the league, and will run away with the Rookie of the Year award. We got the hyperbole from local, national, and worldwide media. Bush is the next [insert whichever elite RB you'd like], Williams over Bush is Bowie over Jordan, we heard and read it all. More importantly, we believed it all.

Now, nine weeks and eight games into the season, we've seen a mixed bag from our trophy rookie. We've seen 141 total yards, and we've seen -5 rushing yards. However, speaking purely from a production standpoint (I don't care about jerseys sold, tickets sold, or successful decoys right now), it would be foolhardy to deny that his bad games have far outweighed his good ones (remember, production, not presence). We've now evolved (or devolved, depending on your position here) to a stance that it is okay for him to produce poorly, provided the team is winning. This is a far cry from the playmaker we had him tagged to be as recently as August 12th or even September 12th.

I just want to know: What caused this paradigm shift? Is it the fact that we're winning games? If we were, say, 3-5 after today, would we still be essentially apologizing for and even excusing fully his near-moribound play? I'd like for most of the attention of the responses to be directed at the move from "he'll be our biggest playmaker, no question, trade Deuce" to "he's not making plays at all, but he opens up the field for others, so it's okay for him to stink it up."

Just trying to elicit some kind of thought-out discussion about this. It's been bugging me for awhile now. And besides, I need a diversion away from Bears this Bears that 1985 Ditka HOLY HELL THE DOLPHINS WON THE GAME.

Someone read me.
 

MrScary

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While Reggie has played very poorly the past 2 games, our running game as a whole has been in decline for the last few weeks due to injuries, poor schemes, and whatever else. 9 games into his rookie year with every Defense keying on him like few rookies before him, I'm a LONG way away from declaring him a wasted pick. Sure, I'd like to see him have more patience and just run forward. Sure I'd like to see more consistent production out of him but based on the effect his mere presence is having on defenses this year, I'm still glad he's a Saint. Give him time and space and he'll be fine. I don't think anyone could've lived up to the hype he had coming in and we need to realize that despite his poor play the last two games, he is still a big reason for our teams improvement this year.
 

Trey W.

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it seem to me like Payton is wanting to use Bush more like a running back which i'm sure he wants to be used and less as an all purpose guy. In the first three games Bush would line up everywhere, the last 5-6 games i don't think he's lined up at WR one time. We are seeing less and less of Bush as a decoy and more as a running back. I don't know if this is due to Deuce's knee and hammy injury or if this is what Payton thinks is better. It obvious that when Deuce is in there, he is the much better runner i just don't think he can handle the full load right now. I would like to see Bush used more like he was in the first three weeks, spread all over the field and trying to get that one on one mismatch or draw the defense to him allowing others to get one on one. I think as we play better teams in the last half of the season we will start to see more of Bush in trick plays and back at WR. We will be facing some very good defenses in the next few weeks. Pittsburg, Cincy, NYG, and Carolina.
 

albionmoonlight

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As an intial matter, I think that it is a mistake to look soley at production at the expense of presence. I disagree with the "Sportscenter" mentality that one who is not producing highlights is not helping his team. Some people's milage varies on that point.

To answer your question, I think that people's paradigm has shifted because the offense is efficient and productive and has lots of weapons. Based on the Brooks/Haz offense of the last few years, we needed a playmaker. Bush needed to score on 80 yard touchdown runs because if he ever got tackled then Brooks would just fumble the ball away on the subsequent snap. Basically, we felt we needed the greatest playmaker in history--someone who might just be able to counteract the enormous quantity of suck that was our offense.

Now, we have an offense that has done better than expected. Deuce started the year strong, not on crutches. Brees is getting mentioned in MVP consideration, not sitting there with his shoulder in a sling. Colston is getting rookie of the year mention, when 9 months ago not even Mel Kiper knew who he was. Our patchwork offensive line is doing way better than I ever thought they could.

Basically, we don't NEED Reggie to be Superman like we thought that we would. We just need him to be one part of a great offense. So, we are not upset that he isn't Superman.

Finally, I throw props to anyone who uses the word paradigm and has a Tecmo signature.
 

shrike3000

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My thoughts on this are the same as they were at the beginning of the season. We are dealing with a rookie here who is way overhyped and will have rookie woes to deal with. Even before I saw anything I knew he could never live up to the hype and I prepared myself for him to deal with Rookie problems. He is now dealing with those very problems and I expect him to overcome him. He should not be judged for a few years down the line as to where he is and what he will be.

I strongly believe he is the next Tiki Barber, and will take some time to get there. Being the next Tiki Barber is a very very good thing to be. The media how ever likes to think that he is the second coming of Jesus Christ, very Vick like as far as hype goes. That has always annoyed me.
 

Chairman_LMAO

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I just want to know: What caused this paradigm shift? Is it the fact that we're winning games? If we were, say, 3-5 after today, would we still be essentially apologizing for and even excusing fully his near-moribound play? I'd like for most of the attention of the responses to be directed at the move from "he'll be our biggest playmaker, no question, trade Deuce" to "he's not making plays at all, but he opens up the field for others, so it's okay for him to stink it up."
Numerous people have attempted to answer this question in other threads. So there should be plenty for you to read if you'd like to try to get a handle on this "paradigm shift."

I'm not sure why you would want to discount/ignore successful decoys, as that helps the team on the field just as much as rushing yards do. And in Reggie's case, maybe a lot more. It's impossible to quantify, but I'd venture to say that Reggie would have to put up a LOT of rushing yards, maybe an unreasonable amount, to equal the positive effect he has had by "opening it up for others." Why doesn't that count?

Why the change from "he'll be our biggest playmaker?" Well, because clearly he isn't. Simple as that. Once that original position is proven wrong, well, you kind of have to pick a different position, don't you?

Not everybody has chosen "it's okay for him to stink it up" as their new position. In fact, I don't think anyone has. That's a slanted interpretation that smacks of an agenda, actually. But I'll grant you the "he's not making any plays, but he is opening it up for others" because, well, that IS what's happening.

Does that make it okay that he's not racking up rushing stats the way we all hoped he would? Well, no, it'd be nice if he was doing that too. But since he's not, it seems to me that you either live with it and focus on the very real, if not quantifiable, contribution he has made to a 6-2 start NOBODY expected, and enjoy it until such time as Reggie does start "making plays" or you wail and gnash your teeth and obssess over how "he sucks" for not immediately setting the stat sheets on fire.

Thankfully, most seem to have chosen the former, for now, and are enjoying the TEAM'S success, to which Reggie has doubtlessly contributed greatly. Unfortunately, some others have chosen the latter. Eh, to each his own.

Yes, I imagine the "paradigm" would have "shifted" in a different direction if the TEAM weren't making most of us so happy right about now.
 

Madmarsha

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If we were, say, 3-5 after today, would we still be essentially apologizing for and even excusing fully his near-moribound play?
No. Even if we were at 5-3 today, the dissenters would be getter louder and louder. But we're 6-2 so, yeah, Reggie's getting a pass.

Interesting you mention Bowie over Jordan but that's not only a different sport but a different scenario. Bowie was a gamble but not so much on what kind of player he'd be but more of a physical problem, IIRC. (He was a nice kid, too. My friend and I took her grandmother to see him play in HS because she was a big fan and he, a HS kid!, very graciously signed his autograph for her.)

But I digress. More recently, I remember the Payton Manning v. Ryan Leaf debate. This time Leaf being more of a gamble because he was all playbook/schmaybook, I'll learn it when I learn it; whereas Payton studied his playbook like he was studying for the bar exam. So I don't think those comparisons really apply here.

Why the Texans took Mario over Reggie I don't know and still don't know. But barring that, I don't think ANYONE would have turned down Reggie. I don't remember a lot of pre-draft media Reggie v. Mario or Reggie v. Laurence Maroney comparisons.

I asked the question the other day why Maroney has seemingly found a way to run north-south when Reggie hasn't. The only answer seems to be that in the heat of the battle, so to speak, Reggie's instincts don't kick in even though he's undoubtedly being coached to be patient and wait for the hole. I mean, they must be, right? However, it seems as tho he's doing the same thing every week and magically expecting a different result which seems frustratingly a Saints trait of the last couple of years. Were they being conservative with Reggie by putting him on special teams to return punts? That's what I always thought. But certainly by now the coaches would have expected him to be stepping up to the plate a bit more even with all the scrutiny he gets from the opposing D.

I think at this point, we all WISH he was doing more but at only 8 games in with all the impact he's already made in this community off the field but aren't ready to make it more of an issue..... yet.
 
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Danchrism

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Thanks for your posts, everyone.

I'm disconnected from the core of Saints Nation, and I happen to be living in a top 3 sports market in its stead. Therefore I don't get as much exposure to the happenings of the team as much as I'd like. It's good to see some of what those at the core really feel.

Just to address something that stood out to me, I don't have an agenda against Bush. Never have, and never will. He's in the colors I cheer for and as such, I wanna see him do well. I've taken enough crap for being a "bad fan" just because I didn't agree with the drafting (ie, I saw that he was a system guy and his skillsets wouldn't immediately translate to top status), but that's water under the bridge at this point. This is one of those situations where I separated my Saints fanhood from my football fanhood, looked at Reggie with an unbiased eye, and swam upstream in an effort to get other fans to realize that his role wasn't going to be what they said it would be. I got pushed on a sword for it. It sucks that, with as relatively small a fanbase as we have, this kind of thing occurred in the first place. It sucks that I have to gnash my teeth and sigh "dammit, I knew this would happen" to myself after yet another poor outing.

Or something.
 

Saint Dupree

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Numerous people have attempted to answer this question in other threads. So there should be plenty for you to read if you'd like to try to get a handle on this "paradigm shift."

I'm not sure why you would want to discount/ignore successful decoys, as that helps the team on the field just as much as rushing yards do. And in Reggie's case, maybe a lot more. It's impossible to quantify, but I'd venture to say that Reggie would have to put up a LOT of rushing yards, maybe an unreasonable amount, to equal the positive effect he has had by "opening it up for others." Why doesn't that count?

Why the change from "he'll be our biggest playmaker?" Well, because clearly he isn't. Simple as that. Once that original position is proven wrong, well, you kind of have to pick a different position, don't you?

Not everybody has chosen "it's okay for him to stink it up" as their new position. In fact, I don't think anyone has. That's a slanted interpretation that smacks of an agenda, actually. But I'll grant you the "he's not making any plays, but he is opening it up for others" because, well, that IS what's happening.

Does that make it okay that he's not racking up rushing stats the way we all hoped he would? Well, no, it'd be nice if he was doing that too. But since he's not, it seems to me that you either live with it and focus on the very real, if not quantifiable, contribution he has made to a 6-2 start NOBODY expected, and enjoy it until such time as Reggie does start "making plays" or you wail and gnash your teeth and obssess over how "he sucks" for not immediately setting the stat sheets on fire.

Thankfully, most seem to have chosen the former, for now, and are enjoying the TEAM'S success, to which Reggie has doubtlessly contributed greatly. Unfortunately, some others have chosen the latter. Eh, to each his own.

Yes, I imagine the "paradigm" would have "shifted" in a different direction if the TEAM weren't making most of us so happy right about now.
yeh, what he said
 

domedog316

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Just to address something that stood out to me, I don't have an agenda against Bush. Never have, and never will. He's in the colors I cheer for and as such, I wanna see him do well. I've taken enough crap for being a "bad fan" just because I didn't agree with the drafting (ie, I saw that he was a system guy and his skillsets wouldn't immediately translate to top status), but that's water under the bridge at this point. This is one of those situations where I separated my Saints fanhood from my football fanhood, looked at Reggie with an unbiased eye, and swam upstream in an effort to get other fans to realize that his role wasn't going to be what they said it would be. I got pushed on a sword for it. It sucks that, with as relatively small a fanbase as we have, this kind of thing occurred in the first place. It sucks that I have to gnash my teeth and sigh "dammit, I knew this would happen" to myself after yet another poor outing.

Or something.
We are all wrong about players from time to time. In 1987 I sure thought John Fourcade was going to be the greatest Saint QB ever. Then, at the end of 89 during a 3 game stretch vs. the Colts, Bills.....and....UHG....I don't remember may have been the Raiders anyways I sure felt vindicated. He played great and led us to a perfect 3-0 finish and spoiled 2 teams playoff aspirations! Then the 91 season came and I realized that I was just wrong!

Methinks you are overdramatizing it a bit. "pushed on a sword" is kind of harsh. Martrydom is overrated. (<-----did I spell Martyrdom right?)
 
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Danchrism

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No. Even if we were at 5-3 today, the dissenters would be getter louder and louder. But we're 6-2 so, yeah, Reggie's getting a pass.

Interesting you mention Bowie over Jordan but that's not only a different sport but a different scenario. Bowie was a gamble but not so much on what kind of player he'd be but more of a physical problem, IIRC. (He was a nice kid, too. My friend and I took her grandmother to see him play in HS because she was a big fan and he, a HS kid!, very graciously signed his autograph for her.)

But I digress. More recently, I remember the Payton Manning v. Ryan Leaf debate. This time Leaf being more of a gamble because he was all playbook/schmaybook, I'll learn it when I learn it; whereas Payton studied his playbook like he was studying for the bar exam. So I don't think those comparisons really apply here.

Why the Texans took Mario over Reggie I don't know and still don't know. But barring that, I don't think ANYONE would have turned down Reggie. I don't remember a lot of pre-draft media Reggie v. Mario or Reggie v. Laurence Maroney comparisons.

I asked the question the other day why Maroney has seemingly found a way to run north-south when Reggie hasn't. The only answer seems to be that in the heat of the battle, so to speak, Reggie's instincts don't kick in even though he's undoubtedly being coached to be patient and wait for the hole. I mean, they must be, right? However, it seems as tho he's doing the same thing every week and magically expecting a different result which seems frustratingly a Saints trait of the last couple of years. Were they being conservative with Reggie by putting him on special teams to return punts? That's what I always thought. But certainly by now the coaches would have expected him to be stepping up to the plate a bit more even with all the scrutiny he gets from the opposing D.

I think at this point, we all WISH he was doing more but at only 8 games in with all the impact he's already made in this community off the field but aren't ready to make it more of an issue..... yet.
Oh trust, I NEVER ate up the whole Bowie thing. If anything, as an aspiring sportswriter it infuriated me. It was a crass and baseless comparison made and repeated often enough for anyone with multiple brain cells to be annoyed by it. I personally think most people had a major case of Bushvision in the time leading up to the draft. The game vs. defensive juggernaut Fresno State. The jump from the UCLA game, #15 for UCLA will forever be "that guy." The SF-Houston game, that which "experts" played up as "the game to lose, in order to draft Reggie." The Heisman trophy and subsequent national championship game.

Now I'm not suggesting that we should just discard his presence. I just can't speak to it, because I only recently discovered SOPcast, and have only seen two Saints games (Philly and ATL). I can, however, read about his performances, see the boxlines, and take note of other fans' sentiments.

I probably shouldn't speak to the off-field stuff because I'm still vexed that he would say something as yellow as "I'll only donate proceeds from my jersey sales to Hurricane Relief if I get to wear #5." It's almost like he sent the relief efforts an ultimatum under terms which they could not satisfy, but would be left in the hands of the historically-stodgy NFL. The succeeding pledge came off to me as backpedaling. It left a bad taste in my mouth, kinda like :spit: only without the laughter.
 
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Danchrism

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We are all wrong about players from time to time. In 1987 I sure thought John Fourcade was going to be the greatest Saint QB ever. Then, at the end of 89 during a 3 game stretch vs. the Colts, Bills.....and....UHG....I don't remember may have been the Raiders anyways I sure felt vindicated. He played great and led us to a perfect 3-0 finish and spoiled 2 teams playoff aspirations! Then the 91 season came and I realized that I was just wrong!

Methinks you are overdramatizing it a bit. "pushed on a sword" is kind of harsh. Martrydom is overrated. (<-----did I spell Martyrdom right?)
In all truthfulness, it's how I felt. May be overstated a bit, but I definitely turned some people against me for good, no matter how much sense what I said made then or makes now
 

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The season certainly is not turning out as most predicted. Many thought we would be lucky to win 3 or 4 games. Many thought (myself included) that Bush was going to be a human highlight reel and that Marques Colston was just another wasted late round pick. We also thought that a handful of castoff linebackers would not produce. And how wrong we were. Half-way through the season, we find ourselves at 6-2 and in first place of our division.

I still don't understand what Reggie Bush means to this team. He has played a part in the turnaround, but perhaps has not had as much of an impact as I would have thought. I think that is partly due to his learning curve, the ineffective run blocking by the Saints and how he is being used. As others have stated earlier, he is being asked to be a running back more and more...which may not be his true strength. He has been used less as a receiver. And for the life of me, with all of his speed and matchup problems that he presents, not one deep pass has been thrown to him. The Sean Payton philosophy on offense appears to be spread the ball around and keep them guessing and it has been highly effective.

As for Reggie, I want one breakout game for him to silence all of the doubters who question can he do it in the NFL. Then he can resume his role on the team as the Saints march to the playoffs.
 

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