The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Oddly Positioned Player

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I've always felt that Reggie Bush should be thought of as more a player than a position. He's not a standard running back, nor is he a standard receiver. What his skills allow the Saints to do, under optimal circumstances, is to bridge the gap between the passing game they've always had with Sean Payton and Drew Brees, and the running game that's always fallen short.

First, there's no doubt that Bush can't carry a full running back's load on his own. This is not a Clinton Portis, who will get the ball 350 times a year -- not unlike Warrick Dunn in his prime, Bush needs a big back to take the inside carries as he has almost no ability to gain yardage between the guards. However, he's a great threat to break a play wide, and I've seen the Saints distract a defense by sending Bush on a fake sweep and handing off to Deuce McAllister. Those plays were successful because the defense had to respect Bush's speed on the perimeter.

As a receiver, he's as good as any back in the league at taking a swing pass and making something of it downfield. This is his primary addition to the Saints from an efficiency perspective; it's interesting to note that while Bush frequently ranks at or near the bottom of the league in Rushing DVOA, he's generally near the top in Receiving DVOA among running backs. Occasionally, you'll get a Brian Westbrook who can lead the league in both categories (Matt Forte seems to be this year's winner), but those players are rare.

I do not think Bush is overrated -- he's not currently thought by many to have been worth the second overall pick in 2006, and it turns out that he probably wasn't, so the expectations seem to be in line. However, before writing him off as a disappointment, I think it's wise to look at what he can do, and it's wise for the Saints to optimize his talents in their system.

By Doug Farrar  |  December 11, 2008; 1:30 PM ET  | Category:  New Orleans Saints Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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