Scott McMahon

Bush Isn't Barry Sanders, But He's Still A Savior

Created on Sept. 11, 2013 5:23 AM EST

I think Lions opponents had the Detroit offense figured out by the end of last season. It didn’t stop Calvin Johnson from setting the single-season receiving yards record, but the Lions were in clear need of an established running game to take some of the pressure off of Matthew Stafford’s arm. Joique Bell gave the offense a small boost, but the Lions still lacked a sure-fire No. 1 running back at the end of 2012.

Enter Reggie Bush: the answer to the Lions’ offensive prayers, the savior of Stafford’s right arm.

For anyone expecting Bush to be the second coming of Barry Sanders, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But after watching Bush against the Minnesota Vikings defense on Sunday, there is a lot to be excited about for Lions fans.

Bush exploded for 191 yards from scrimmage and led the team in both rushing yards (90) and receiving yards (101). Bush’s effect on the Lions’ offense was clear from the opening drive when he gained 25 yards on two plays, and was cemented late in the third quarter when Bush took a screen pass from Stafford 77 yards between the safeties for a touchdown.

Yes, Bush has only played one official game in a Lions uniform, but you have to like what you see so far. He broke tackles, changed directions, and used his speed to get into open space. Bush’s 77-yard touchdown reception was exactly what the Lions wanted out of the free agent signing — a running back that has the speed to score down the middle of the field, and do so on a rush or a pass. Even if he hadn’t broken that long touchdown, Bush had the Vikings on their toes throughout the entire game, and still found ways to make the defense miss.

What I like most about Reggie Bush in a Lions uniform, though, is the added dimension he brings to the offense. The NFL has seen a drastic switch from the workhorse, every-down-back to a two- or three-back attack that offers a change of pace, which the Lions had struggled to find the personnel to use. Bush now teams up with Bell and Mikel Leshoure to create a rushing attack that should be far better than the 23rd-ranked running game that the Lions used in 2012. Defenses will have to respect the Lions’ ground game, which should open the field up more for Stafford and the Lions’ corps of receivers.

We’ll have to see how stronger defenses like Chicago and Pittsburgh approach their game plans against the Lions later this season, but one thing is for sure: this isn’t just a Stafford-to-Megatron offense anymore.

There’s good reason for optimism in Detroit for the Lions’ 2013 campaign with Reggie Bush at the running back position. Barring any major injuries, Detroit’s offense should be as potent as we’ve seen in years.

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