The Miami Dolphins were secretly getting ready for an 0-16 season. Having a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill doesn’t usually give a boost of confidence to an already troubled franchise, but maybe there’s a bit more light at the end of tunnel than previously thought, with Reggie Bush leading the way for once.
When Bush was drafted from USC after a stellar college career, taken as the second pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, this is what the Saints were thinking of. A running back that despite the lack of size can avoid tackles and open up the field with big runs, notching up 100 yard performances week after week.
Instead, despite winning a Super Bowl with the Saints after the 2009 season, there was a sense of disappointment regarding one of the more electrifying college football players in recent years. The hype was so big that the NFL considered, just for a moment, changing its numbers policy just so Bush could wear his #5 jersey he used when playing for the Trojans.
Instead, Bush, besides the multiple injuries that plagued his time with the Saints, wasn’t used as a feature back. During his first three seasons with the team, he averaged only 3.7 yards per carry, averaging just over 11 carries a game. Payton preferred using him as a decoy and a receiver. During his first season, he caught 88 passes, just like a #1 receiver would for certain teams. His usage dropped and dropped as time moved on.
Then came last season with the Dolphins. Bush was happy to leave New Orleans and start a new chapter in his career, at the age of 26. Suddenly, he wasn’t playing for a good team anymore, but he was playing for a team that was building partially around him. After already winning a title, achieving personal goals is the next thing. Bush ran for 1086 yards, averaging 5 yards a carry while also getting 296 yards on passing plays, getting a total of 259 touches, obviously a career high.
And Bush’s performance against the Raiders is a sign for the Dolphins that it might not be so bad this year. Bush ran for 172 yards, scoring two touchdowns. After a frustrating first half, the Raiders defense, a bad team on a long travel, were simply worn out.
We kept hitting them. Then eventually those 8-, 9-yard runs, those will start breaking for 20, 25. Once we continued to press that tempo against them, we felt like we wore them down. We wanted to wear their defensive line down and just continue to pound the ball. I think it showed throughout the game. We felt our tempo would be a key. We pressed that tempo and felt like we wore them down and just continued to pound the ball.
The Raiders aren’t an indication this is going to be a great year. The Patriots, Jets and even the Bills are better team than the Dolphins, in their AFC East division alone. But Reggie Bush looks like he’s enjoying the new chapter of his career, in an offense that looks to him first to provide yards and points. Eventually, it’ll start leading to bigger wins, if the teams continues to improve around and with him.