Tuck: Reggie Bush Earning Respect

A failure.  A bust.  Overrated.  Too small.  Not an every down back.  Too fragile.  Overpaid.  More concerned with fame than his career.

Miami Dolphins RB Reggie Bush came into the NFL with fame and fortune.  He quickly learned that college success doesn’t translate automatically to the NFL.  Nobody is given anything.  A player must earn that respect, and must earn it by doing it in the NFL.

Bush is doing that now, given a second chance.  Perhaps, a first chance if you ask him.

“I knew, given the opportunity, that I’d be able to show I could be an every-down back,” Bush said. “It definitely means a lot. It means that I’m doing everything that I expected to be doing.”

Reggie Bush definitely had a role with the Saints, but some of his shortcomings caused the expansion of that role to cease.  He battled injuries.  He struggled to run between the tackles with any consistency.  Some things were his fault, some the Saints.  Eventually, the price tag associated with Bush didn’t match up the production from him.  New Orleans traded the former #2 pick in the draft to the Dolphins this off-season.

Miami surprised many fans and members of the media in talking up Bush as an every-down back, despite having traded up for K-State’s Daniel Thomas in the second round of the draft.  For one, people, including myself, doubted Bush could handle the role because of what happened in New Orleans.  For another, the team didn’t draft the versatile, and burly Thomas to watch from the sidelines.  Turns out, Miami wasn’t sure themselves.

After an active first game against the Patriots, where Bush got 20 touches, the Dolphins decided that was too many.  The Dolphins scored 24 points that week in the loss.  The following 5 weeks, all losses, Bush touched the ball: 7, 11, 15, 12, and 12 times.  Miami scored an average of 13.2 points per game.

The last 8 weeks, Miami has gone 5-3 and scored 24.5 points per game.  Bush has touched the ball 158 times over that time, any average of 19.75 touches per game.  Coincidence?  If you’ve been watching, obviously not.

The Dolphins offense badly needed play-makers after last season.  Bush, even if not a star, has shown to be that over his career.  He made a ton of big plays for the Saints offense and special teams, and was an important part of their run to a Super Bowl.  An optimistic Fins fan hoped he could at least be that for the team.

He has been that and more.  Most had given up on the idea of him being a starting back, but on the verge of a 1000 yard season, Bush has shown he can be.  His lack of size will never let him live up to that hype he had coming out of USC as a Heisman winner, but at 26 years old, he has proven he can be a productive starter, and more importantly, help a team win.

“Obviously, personal stats are good to have, and it’s good to do, but the most important thing is to get the win, get the ‘W,’ and finish strong in the division,” said Bush following Miami’s 30-23 win over Buffalo.

He has been part of winners at USC and in New Orleans, and can be in Miami as well.

Reggie Bush earned a rep as me-first, probably because of his fame off the field.  Dating Kim Kardashian and being feature in photo shoots, magazine spots, and TV shows tends to rub fans the wrong way.  Especially when you more famous for off-field things than what you do on it, as Bush was.

Now, even at the height of his individual pro success, having rushed for over 200 yards in the win at Buffalo, Bush deflected the praise.

“The offensive line did a tremendous job [Sunday]. It really opened up the holes for me, and really gave me a chance to go out there and be a playmaker,” Bush said. “Those guys are amazing. It’s really been a pleasure and honor running behind them this year.”

Reggie Bush has four 100-yard games this season.  He had one previous to this year.  He has had over 100 in three straight, including the explosive and impressive 200 on Sunday.

The results never equaled the top billing in the NFL, but the work ethic has always been there.  Bush’s hard work is paying off this season and he is earning the respect that he was given to soon.  Good for him.