Since Reggie Bush was selected with the second overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, it’s been a roller coaster ride during his five-year stint with the New Orleans Saints. There were very high expectations of him, as he was even compared to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. By not living up to those standards, he has been labeled a “bust.” He will never live up to the Faulk comparison, but the only thing he can do is to play to his strengths that make him a special talent.
Before the season even started, NFL experts and analysts wondered why the Dolphins would sign an injury-prone punt returner to be their lead running back. Under head coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins relied heavily on the run, so this acquisition was puzzling from the start. To bolster their running game, Miami drafted Daniel Thomas in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft. It was expected that Thomas would take over for Bush at some point in the season and thrive. In an unexpected turn of events, Thomas started in only two games and finished with 581 rushing yards and one receiving touchdown. On the other hand, Bush was able to stay healthy and have a career year.
In his first year with the Miami Dolphins, Bush recorded his first 1,000-yard rushing season (1,086). On 216 carries, he averaged five yards per carry, which is his highest average since 2009 where he ran for 5.6 yards per carry but had only 70 rushing attempts. In New Orleans, he averaged only 418 rushing yards per season and 4.18 yards per carry.
Bush’s best game of his career came in Week 15 against the Buffalo Bills, where he carried the ball 25 times for 203 yards, which included a 76-yard rushing touchdown. This season, Bush ran for at least 100 yards in five games. During his time with the Saints, he only had one 100-yard game. Based on the results from this season alone, he has shown that he can handle a heavy workload and succeed.
It’s up for debate as to whether or not he could have succeeded in New Orleans as a feature back. Was he intentionally restricted to be a punt returner and third-down back because the Saints had depth? Or was he simply not a strong runner? No matter the situation, Bush is showing his fans and critics alike why he was a top draft selection. While 2011 can be viewed as a disappointing year for the Dolphins, finishing with a 6-10 record, it may be the year that rejuvenates and even propel Bush’s highly-scrutinized career in a more positive direction.
Travis Chan is a longtime football, basketball and baseball fan and contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Travischan1.