After five subpar seasons in New Orleans, Reggie Bush finally built a steady foundation for himself with the Miami Dolphins. But after featuring Bush in their backfield for the past two season, the Dolphins may be better off moving on without him.
The Dolphins exceeded expectations under rookie head coach Joe Philbin in 2012, finishing with an impressive 7-9 record after a major roster overhaul last offseason. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has officially been tabbed as the future of the Dolphins’ organization and he’s leading something of a youth movement in Miami, in which Bush may have no place.
It’s not that his skills have diminished or he’s even reached his peak yet. Bush’s pure athleticism and talent are unquestionable. His speed goes uncontested in the open field and his moves are shiftier than a creature found in an episode of True Blood. His body also has endured far less wear and tear than other veteran running backs.
Bush, who will be 28 years old by the start of next season, has carried the ball just 967 times and managed just over 1,300 touches (rushes and receptions) through his seven-year career so far. So, diminishing skills and durability aren’t real prominent issues for him. But even after posting two of of his most productive NFL seasons in each of the past two years, including his only 900-plus yard rushing campaigns, Bush is aging and doesn’t seem to gel with the Dolphins’ future plans.
Miami has a few tantalizing options in house, which seem like better bets than Bush. Daniel Thomas (25 years old) and Lamar Miller (21) are still on board for the Dolphins. Both are a few years younger than Bush, have less than three years of experience in the league and are under team control for another few seasons — and at a relative bargain, too.
Neither Thomas nor Miller established themselves as a premier or very reliable back in 2012 — Thomas ran 91 times for 325 yards and Miller carried the ball 51 times for 250 yards — but they both possess top-end talent and offer a lot of promise for the future of the Dolphins’ offense.
After another impressive season on the ground, averaging better than 4.3 yards per carry, and with plenty of miles left on those legs, Bush should still be a hot free agent on the market this offseason. The Dolphins may make him an offer to stay at something of a hometown discount, but that would be more a show of goodwill than anything.
Let’s face the facts: This will be Bush’s last big contract and he’s looking to get paid. So getting short-changed is not an option, but then again neither is staying in Miami. The Dolphins are getting younger and building for the future, and Bush just doesn’t fit into that strategy. So, while the people of Miami might be sad to see maybe their best playmaker go, it is in the best interest of the team.
The six biggest Trendsetters of the past week in the NFL
Randy Moss, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Up — His comment might have seemed a bit pompous and even delusional at time, but Moss was real, honest and answered every question asked of him. That’s more than you can say of his three-plus years in New England, showing just how much he’s matured.
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens: Down — Accusations about taking a banned substance in his recovery couldn’t have come at a worse time. He also made a sideshow of himself on Tuesday, refusing to respond to any questions on his murder case and questioning reporters’ qualifications for asking such questions. I understand this week is about football, not court cases, but he’s got to anticipate this stuff, right?
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers: Up — His stocks has been on the rise for quite a while, so this is no surprise. But Kaepernick revealed he’s as cool as the other side of the pillow this week [http://nesn.com/2013/01/colin-kaepernick-says-he-doesnt-feel-pressure-isnt-nervous-about-playing-in-super-bowl/], which bodes well for the Super Bowl, even if his interviews are as dull as the other end of a nail.
Rob Ryan: Down — He said he wouldn’t be out of work more than “five seconds,” but soon we’ll be going on five weeks. Ryan had a new job leading the Rams’ defense, but wasn’t even able to sign the contract before being let go. He’s sounding a helluva lot like damaged good at this point — sounds like a Ryan family tradition.
Chris Culliver, CB, San Francisco 49ers: Down — During Super Bowl week, the pressure and scrutiny is definitely heightened for all the players, coaches and really anyone involved. So, that means you’ve got to check your baggage at the door and leave your personal beliefs at home.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: Up — The lone non-Super Bowl entry of the week, comes from the comfortable confines of the Pro Bowl. Rudolph was a late fill-in for Tony Gonzalez — now those are some big shoes to fill — and he made a name for himself with the opportunity. He caught five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown on his way to Pro Bowl MVP honors [http://nesn.com/2013/01/pro-bowl-live-adrian-peterson-peyton-manning-meet-in-mvp-battle-for-nfl-all-star-supremacy/]. We could be saying Rudolph’s name a whole lot more come next season, so you might want to get used to him.