Reggie Bush: Less Is More

Patrick GeneroseCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints gestures as he runs off the field at hlaftime against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In Reggie Bush's fourth season as a professional, he has touched the ball less and accumulated less yards from scrimmage than he has in any other of his three previous seasons.

Based off those two stats alone, it seems that Bush has gotten considerably worse every year he's been in the NFL.

But what these numbers don't gauge is Bush's effectiveness with the touches that he's given (as well as his effectiveness on special teams).

Even though his touches and yards declined, Bush's 6.2 yards-per-touch from scrimmage in 2009 is the best of his career.

He also matched his career best in touchdowns from scrimmage with eight.

Examining Bush's 2009 performance alone, his production went up the less he touched the ball.

It wasn't necessarily reflected in the Saints' win/loss column, but his output nevertheless showed that Bush ran more effectively as the season progressed.

Through the first five games of '09, Bush touched the rock 57 times for 293 yards—an average of 5.14 yards-per-touch.

In his final five games of '09, Bush touched the ball 33 times for 241 yards—an average of 7.3 yards-per-touch.

Bush's improvement was a bright spot during the Saints' 0-3 skid to end the season.

More importantly, Sean Payton may have found out that the best way to use Bush is sparingly.

It seemed to be the case, especially examining the way Payton cut Bush loose against the Cardinals in the divisional playoffs.

On his nine touches from scrimmage, Bush gained 108 yards, almost doubling his season average of yards-per-touch from 6.2 to an even 12 for the playoff game.

His 84 yards rushing on five carries were also the most he's had in a game all season.

Common wisdom directs you to put the ball to the hot hands.  Right now those hands unquestionably belong to Bush.

But what's igniting Bush's hot streak is the same formula that Payton used to get the Saints to the NFC Championship in 2006.

Hot hands were abundant then just as they are now. 

The trick will be keeping them all warm without overheating any one pair in particular.

This is especially true for Bush, who has done more with less all season.