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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Reggie Bush questions dominate today's edition of the New Orleans Saints mailbag By Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune November 07, 2009, 11:49AM Here's your daily delivery of New Orleans Saints mailbag . Today's file is heavy on Reggie Bush info. In ...

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Old 11-07-2009, 07:35 PM   #1
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Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Reggie Bush questions dominate today's edition of the New Orleans Saints mailbag

By Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune

November 07, 2009, 11:49AM

Here's your daily delivery of New Orleans Saints mailbag.
Today's file is heavy on Reggie Bush info. In fact, I could probably do a weekly Reggie Bush-only mailbag. The interest in the Saints lightning-rod of a running back is amazing.
Here's today's Q&A:
Ted Jackson/The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush has seen his touches decrease this season, but he is still an important part of the Saints offense for now.

Q: Does Reggie Bush fit in with this Saints team? On Monday night, Pierre Thomas played the third down back on a lot of passing downs, where you'd ordinarily see Reggie. So clearly Bush isn't the third-down back. And he is definitely not the short-yardage back. Bush isn't even the receiving threat he once was. So where does he fit in? On punt returns? He has 18 returns for 71 yards. I know he is a threat, but are the Saints paying him all that money to return punts? Which brings me to my next question, does Reggie Bush stand to lose a lot of money if he doesn't produce on the field. If so, are the Saints phasing him out so they can pay him less? Bush needs the ball in his hands or he can't do anything. How many home run hitters hit home runs when they're being pinch hit for? He needs opportunities and New Orleans is not giving him any. Staff Sergeant Chase Tillman USMC, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

A: Chase, no one, least of all Sean Payton, is trying to "phase out" Reggie Bush. He's just a victim of circumstance right now and is playing his role. To suggest that Payton or the Saints would try to undermine his playing time or production is ludicrous and doesn't deserve comment. The Saints have so many weapons in their offense no single player is going to be featured. It's actually one of the strengths of the attack because defenses can't focus on one target. That said, if Bush were a dominant player like, say, Adrian Peterson then, trust me, they'd be using him more often. They manage to get Marques Colston the ball a number of times each week because they know he's special. But I think by now we've all learned what Bush can do. Three-plus seasons of evidence suggest he's a dangerous utility back, similar to Leon Washington, Darren Sproles, Josh Cribbs and Percy Harvin. There's nothing wrong with that. The Saints value Bush's skills and versatility. He's a core member of their offense. He can't help that he was drafted No. 2 overall and has an exorbitant paycheck because of it. As my colleague Mike Triplett notes, if Bush were a fourth-round draft pick everyone would love his contributions and role on the team. Unfortunately, an unrealistic amount of hype and expectations accompanied Bush from Southern Cal. He's had to live with the burden, and I think, at times, struggled with it. But he's not a bust. Yes, Bush is never going to reach the production and playing time incentives in his deal in his current role, but that money is minor compared to his $2.8 million base salary and $4.5 million roster bonus he's already earned. Besides, there are other ways for him to make extra cash. He can earn up to $1.5 million extra if the Saints do well in the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. According to his deal, Bush can earn $200,000 if the Saints win a wild card playoff game, $300,000 for a divisional playoff win and $500,000 each for a win in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl. Those are the incentives Bush should be - and most like is - concerned about at this moment.

Q: Why does Reggie Bush refuse to run up the middle on punt returns? The yards are there to be had and his first instinct at any time is to go outside even if the yards are there, was up with that? Tony, Kenner.
A: Usually Bush is following the blocking pattern, Tony. The Saints have a plan for each return. Sometimes they set up returns to the left or right. Sometimes it's a middle return. He's not just back there running around aimlessly. When you see him running to one side or the other, it's to set up his blocking scheme. My issue with Bush is his judgment. Sometimes you have to be able to recognize the home run is not there and just take a solid 8 or 10 yards for the good of the team. Bush, though, is a home-run hitter by nature. He's always going to try for the big return and consequently surrenders a lot of hidden yardage.

Q: Is Reggie being punished for his anemic yards-per-carry average? I notice he is getting less touches per game and Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell are getting the majority of the running carries. Al Medley, Manassas Va.

A: Al, no one is being punished. Bush fans need to drop the excuses and persecution complex. Bush's role on this team is to play in passing situations on third downs and in the two-minute offense. Thomas and Bell are the primary ball carriers. They are going to get the bulk of the carries during the course of game. Statistics prove they are better at it than Bush. His body of work is now four years old. His yards per carry average is a full yard less than either Bell or Thomas. Payton isn't punishing Bush. He's playing to the strengths of his personnel and doing what's best for the team.

Q: Will Reggie Bush's touches continue to dwindle or will the Saints find ways to get him the ball more, both on the ground and through the air? Paul Werner, Edmonds, Wash.

A: Paul, I think the last few weeks have been something of a circumstantial anomaly. I think you'll see Bush's touches increase in the future. He's the primary back in passing situations and the Saints have not needed to play catch-up much the season. Moreover, they've tried to get him the ball a few times in recent weeks but for various reasons it hasn't worked out. Against the Dolphins, he was targeted for six passes but only caught three of them. I expect Payton will continue to look in his direction in certain situations but there are only so many touches to go around and this offense has multiple weapons.

Q: Why don't the Saints use Reggie Bush on kick returns? He's not getting as many touches and everyone agrees he's better in space, so why not let him return kicks? Christopher Phipps, Orange County, Calif.

A: I don't think Payton wants to expose Bush to some of the crushing hits that occur on kickoff returns. He's not a particularly big guy. He's listed at 6-0, 205 but is closer to 5-10 and 195. More importantly, he's coming off a pair of knee injuries. Payton has been careful to not overexpose him to injuries and has done a good job of managing his playing time. Throwing him into the mix on kickoff returns probably isn't going to happen for these reasons, although I could see Payton putting him back there in an emergency or cameo role if needed.

Q: Did I see Reggie Bush pick up a couple of blocks on blitzing linebackers against Atlanta? Also, how long do you think his (Reggie) new head down, look for the collision running style will last, and do they even need it at this point? Jay Ivers, Normal, Ill.

A: Yes, Bush appeared committed to show his toughness last week against the Falcons. He blocked with vigor and was determined to lower the boom on would-be tacklers in the open field. Payton's a crafty sort. It wouldn't surprise me if he put a critical newspaper clip or two in Bush's locker last week to motivate him. He played like someone with a chip on his shoulder.

Q: Long-time reader, first-time "mail bagger." I noticed that Bush only had four touches in the Falcons' game. Two passes thrown in his direction were way off target by Brees. Is there some sort of conspiracy against Bush or something? I know people expect him to make ridiculous plays, but even on punt returns I don't see any set blocks for him. What's going on there? Edwin, South Korea.

A: Welcome, Edwin, but you need to come with something better than this on your next query. It's ridiculous to think Bush's teammates conspire against him. Bush fans accused Mike Karney of doing the same thing last year. So the Saints have a new fullback this season in Heath Evans and Bush's per-carry average is 3.8, almost exactly the same as his previous three seasons with Karney when he averaged 3.6, 3.7 and 3.8 yards per rushing attempt. Fact is, Bush lacks the bulk, leg drive and vision to be an effective running back in the NFL. We have a four-year body of work to go by now and it appears Payton has finally realized this, as well. And I don't know this for sure so I'm just speculating, but it looked like Bush broke his route in the wrong direction on the fourth-quarter incompletion from Brees against the Falcons. After the play, Brees motioned to Bush that he should have broken the route outside the coverage instead of inside. I would agree that the punt return woes are not all his fault. In fact, the blocking has been pretty weak so far and needs to improve of he's never going to have a chance to break one.

Q: How do you think Jermon Bushrod has fared overall? It seems like Brees has been under duress more often this season than in seasons passed, but it's hard to tell if it's always coming from the left side, or elsewhere. Thanks. Brian, Waveland, Miss.

A: Jermon Bushrod has performed admirably. The Saints are leading the league in total offense and they've allowed only 11 sacks so they must be doing something right. His struggles against Joey Porter and John Abraham have been well-documented but those are two of the elite pass rushers in the game. He's had a trial by fire and has held his own. That said, I think everyone has a greater appreciation for Jammal Brown and his work on the left side in recent years. It's one of the most critical positions in football and Brown was a Pro Bowler. Obviously his presence and talent is missed.

Q: Isn't Garrett Hartley ready to go, and is it time to consider him given the misses by Carney? Steve, Boston.

A: Actually, Steve, Hartley injured his foot on Friday at practice and was added to the injury report as doubtful. Not that Payton was considering a switch, but this pretty much ensures Carney will be the kicker in the near future.
Scott Threlkeld / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Saints kicker Garrett Hartley was injured in practice on Friday.

Q: OK, Jeff, we're 7-0, a three-game lead in our division, swiftly heading to the playoffs, and Carney is struggling, big time. Don't you think it's time to activate Hartley and see if he can give us some rhythm in the kicking game?
Wes Wilson, Cleveland, Miss.


A: I would hardly call going 8-for-11 "struggling big-time," Wes. True, he's missed two of his past four but that's not exactly a crisis. He barely pushed the 37-yarder wide last week. It wasn't like he duck-hooked the ball into the band or something. And the extra-point miss against Miami was because of a faulty snap-hold. You can't just start yanking kickers around every time they miss a kick. Sean Payton has learned that lesson the hard way and is doing the smart thing by sticking with his veteran kicker. Carney arrived in camp late because of the Hartley suspension and is still synchronizing with long snapper Jason Kyle and holder Mark Brunell. That's about as experienced a battery as you can get. Those guys are pros and will get their act straightened out. I'd be surprised if the problems persisted.

Q: I understand why Payton has stuck with John Carney thus far, especially with a winning streak to protect however isn't it time to go back to Hartley? No one is arguing with Carney's impressive career statistics, however, ask a New York Giants fan about how accurate and impactful he has been in recent history. His leg is clearly tired and watching mildly important field goals sail wide in back-to-back games it seems like the Black and Gold are playing with fire here. Why wait until Carney misses a game-changer before giving the kid another shot? Bob Bixby, Las Vegas, Nev.

A: Bob, Carney has a 46-yarder to his credit this season and easily had the distance on his missed 49-yard attempt against Miami. I've seem him make 53-yarders routinely during pregame warmups this season so I'd hardly say his leg is tired. The guy's missed a couple of field goals. No reason to panic just yet.

Q: Considering John Carney's recent struggles, and the spat of injuries the Saints have experienced, do you think Payton would cut Carney and go with Hartley to free up a roster spot? Or is it more likely that Hartley would be released? Also, how do Eckel work out against Atlanta? I saw him get a couple good licks on linebackers but he didn't touch the ball. Andrew Thomas, Santa Monica, Calif.

A: Even with their recent spate of injuries, the Saints still have the luxury of keeping both kickers on the roster. It's a good thing, too, because Harley injured his ankle on Friday and probably couldn't kick this week anyway. I think Payton has made his decision with the kickers and plans to keep both here all season. The Giants employed the same strategy a year ago and it worked for them. As for Eckel, he played fine last week considering his late arrival. I'm sure the Saints used him in a limited capacity. His role will expand as he becomes more familiar with the offense. He's more of a true lead blocker than a versatile all-around talent like Evans. I wouldn't expect him to command a lot of touches in the Saints offensive system.

Q: Do you believe Garrett Hartley is still being punished for his four-game suspension and that's why Payton is sticking with Carney? Shane, Carencro, La.

A: Above all, Sean Payton is trying to win games, Shane. He's not about to jeopardize such an important season to teach his young kicker a lesson. Hartley's suspension didn't exactly cost the Saints anything. They're 7-0 so why would Payton want to punish him?


Q: How's the health of Adrian Arrington and how is he doing on the practice squad? Is he making strides to improve and possibly make the squad next year? Brett, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

A: I have not received any recent reports on Arrington but I know the coaching staff has high hopes for him. He's undoubtedly talented. However, he needs to stay healthy. At some point, the team's brain trust needs to feel confident about a player's reliability and availability. Arrington doesn't have enough skins on the wall to survive much longer if he continues to get injured. That said, I think the Saints have a vision for him as an eventual part of their receiver rotation. His time could be sooner rather than later with the recent injury to Lance Moore. Stay tuned.

Q: I've never seen the penalty on the fans throwing a beer bottle before. What's to keep a Falcons fan or any opposing fan from doing something like that to get the other team penalized. That field position could have been crucial in a closer game. Mike Seybold, Dallas.

A: Mike, you've obviously not been to many Saints games at night in the Superdome. First of all, the Saints were penalized for the thrown beer bottle. ESPN reported that erroneously and corrected it later. The flag was for excessive celebration by Pierre Thomas and his teammates. Saints fans have a history of making it rain at the Superdome, especially during night games when they've had extra time to "lubricate." I recall Saints fans pelting the turf with beer bottles after Kyle Turley's helmet throwing incident against the Jets in 2001 and later that season during an ugly Monday night loss to the Rams. The Saints were penalized during the latter incident. As for your opposing fans' strategy, officials would never penalize a team for an isolated incident. It takes a series of thrown bottles and more than just one or two to prompt an infraction

Reggie Bush questions dominate today's edition of the New Orleans Saints mailbag | New Orleans Saints Central - - NOLA.com

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Old 11-07-2009, 07:54 PM   #2
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Thanks for the post.

Last edited by bobad; 11-07-2009 at 07:56 PM..
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Old 11-07-2009, 08:42 PM   #3
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

its hard for reggie to hit homeruns as well when he doesnt get the carries b/c PT and Bell are running so well...
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Old 11-07-2009, 10:08 PM   #4
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Originally Posted by pakowitz View Post
its hard for reggie to hit homeruns as well when he doesnt get the carries b/c PT and Bell are running so well...
I believe that Bush's fumble problems earlier this year (and over his career) are a factor here. Thomas and Bell don't have a history of fumbling often and really, they just run better than Bush.
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Old 11-08-2009, 06:09 AM   #5
 
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Originally Posted by iceshack149 View Post
I believe that Bush's fumble problems earlier this year (and over his career) are a factor here. Thomas and Bell don't have a history of fumbling often and really, they just run better than Bush.
Agreed .... he still dances too much in the backfield. He does shine as a situational back ...problem is, he is getting paid too much for that.

Last edited by SmashMouth; 11-08-2009 at 11:19 AM..
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:32 AM   #6
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Originally Posted by Jeff Duncan
You can't just start yanking kickers around every time they miss a kick. Sean Payton has learned that lesson the hard way and is doing the smart thing by sticking with his veteran kicker.
This pretty much reiterates my reply in the Carney thread last week. IMO, it's not so much that Payton doesn't want to make the switch, it's just that he doesn't want to be put in the situation where someone might be able to say, "How could you make the same mistake twice?"

It says that Hartley got hurt on Friday, so I guess it becomes a moot issue...for the moment, at least.
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Old 11-08-2009, 09:14 AM   #7
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Originally Posted by SmashMouth View Post
Agreed .... he still dances too much in the backfield. He does shines as a situational back ...problem is, he is getting paid too much for that.
Exactly right.

Some of Jeff Duncan's posters are asking whether Payton is holding
Reggie back because his contract is loaded with incentives. It's
painfully obvious that Payton is holding him back because of
performance, which Jeff failed to emphasize. Jeff will have to
excuse the ignorant fans who expect a high level of performance
from the No. 2 draft choice. The same fans that expect more from
Reggie are still rooting for him, but there's a limit to patience.
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Old 11-08-2009, 09:52 AM   #8
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

our team has had trouble with fumbles all season, not just reggie......drew fumbled, PT fumbled a couple.....bell now has 2 fumbles......reggie is just one of the culprits now......i expect his touches to go back up as we start facing tougher defenses

PT and bell like to run hard and smart.....reggie is all about going the distance and since he has been striking out more than hitting homeruns i completely understand his drop in touches

bummer that hartley is hurt......im disappointed that carney still has a job
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:20 AM   #9
 
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Originally Posted by CantonLegend View Post
our team has had trouble with fumbles all season, not just reggie......drew fumbled, PT fumbled a couple.....bell now has 2 fumbles......reggie is just one of the culprits now......i expect his touches to go back up as we start facing tougher defenses
What? We haven't faced tough defenses yet?
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:57 AM   #10
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Re: Bush dominate today's edition of the Saints mailbag

Originally Posted by SmashMouth View Post
What? We haven't faced tough defenses yet?
i said once we start facing tougher defenses.....not that we havent already faced tough defenses......

reggie is great at changing the pace of the game and when we are struggling against the #1 pass defense in the league today i expect reggie to see more touches because he can do more with less

also against defenses like the patriots i expect him to see his share of touches as well.....as we get into the playoffs, you will start to see his touches come back....simply because he can turn 1 touch into an 80 yard TD
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