Allegations involving Reggie Bush receiving special benefits, including nearly $300,000 in gifts while in college, have been present since Bush entered the NFL in 2006. The talk about Bush’s purported college transgressions once again heated up late this summer. It became a major media story, with analysts taking sides on whether or not the NCAA should strip him of his prestigious 2005 Heisman award, and some reports indicating that a decision on that matter would come soon. In an effort to put an end to the controversy, Bush voluntarily gave up his Heisman trophy earlier this month. Then, just when he thought he could get back to focussing solely on football, Bush broke a bone in his leg in last week’s win against San Francisco; he will be out for at least four weeks.
Bush, an integral part of the Saints’ Super Bowl nucleus last year, will surely be missed. Bush is not among the league’s elite running backs, but he has carved a niche for himself in the Saints’ offence and is seen as one of the most explosive players in the league. Bush’s moves in the open field and his soft hands make him a tremendous receiver in backfield. He was targeted 68 times by Drew Brees in 2009, the third most on the team, and caught 69% of passes thrown his way. Bush had 725 yards from scrimmage last year and eight total touchdowns. These numbers represent an important vacancy that now exists in the Saints’ offence. His absence will also be felt in the running game. As a running back, Bush complements starter Pierre Thomas perfectly. Thomas is able to gain the tough yards up the middle while Bush’s speed goes to stretch plays and tosses. Bush lacks the physical presence to be an every-down back, but his skills are ideal for a complementary role.
Bush’s strong play ability will be missed, but the Saints likely aren’t panicking. This injury will him away for a period of time, but fortunately, Bush is just one of the many weapons in the Saints’ offence. The Saints had the highest-scoring offence last season, meaning that no one player (aside from quarterback Drew Brees) is irreplaceable. The running game is sure to miss Bush’s speed, but ultimately the Saints’ offence is built around their strong passing attack.
Brees has tremendous pocket presence. This allows Brees, who completed an astonishing 70.9% of his passes last year, to always find the open man. Brees has a reputation for spreading the ball around as well as any quarterback in the league, so the loss of Bush will mean more chances for his other receiving options to make plays. The Saints also have head coach Sean Payton, who is seen as one of the brightest offensive play-callers in football. As long as the duo of Payton and Brees are around there will be no shortage of points.