Thursday, September 12, 2013
Reggie Bush and new offensive line fit well
By Michael Rothstein
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- When Detroit signed Reggie Bush before the season, it knew it would be receiving an explosive running back who fit what the Lions wanted in their offense.
The byproduct of Bush signing is that, after one game, the offense appears to be working. Matthew Stafford was accurate. The Lions had a running game with Bush, and much of that came from the improved play of the offensive line, a group breaking in three new starters.
Detroit's offensive linemen know tailback Reggie Bush needs only a little room to spring a big play.
On Sunday, Detroit picked up positive yards on almost every run play against the Minnesota Vikings. Twice, Bush ran for no gain. The only negative rushing play was a botched snap that Stafford fell on for a 5-yard loss.
Other than that, the line pushed enough to gain positive yardage each time and protected well. The reason why is potentially simple.
“In one word, Reggie,” right tackle Jason Fox said. “He’s a huge part of our offense, as you guys got to see in the first game. Now that we’re a balanced attack, they have to worry about stopping so many weapons on offense with Reggie and Calvin [Johnson] and our tight ends and other receivers and Joique [Bell].
“We have so many guys we can go to, and when they try to stop Calvin, we go to Reggie and vice versa.”
That has been the plan all along. It wasn’t even disturbed when Fox -- one of the new starters along with right guard Larry Warford and left tackle Riley Reiff -- left the game with a groin injury and was replaced by Corey Hilliard.
Didn’t matter. The Lions’ line continued to play well anyway.
All of this is interrelated offensively. The line has to block well enough for Bush to get into position. By getting into position, Bush takes pressure off the line, and if Stafford finds him enough, it could open up the field for Johnson and Detroit’s other receivers and tight ends.
But there is little doubt having Bush helps when it comes to both run blocking and pass blocking. His presence -- and Detroit’s renewed ability to have screens turn into touchdowns -- forces defenses to scheme differently against the Lions.
By having Bush, Johnson and other options, defenses can’t just sit back and play the deep pass or send blitzes at Stafford.
“It definitely kind of takes a little bit of pressure off, because those guys got to be aware of where he’s at,” tight end Brandon Pettigrew said of Bush. “I guess it can take the aggressiveness of a defense off, depending on the point of the game, what down and distance is.”
Teams might have to tone down the aggression against Detroit because Bush can be so active so fast in Detroit’s offense. As he showed Sunday, he can take a little room and turn it into a 77-yard touchdown off a screen.
Knowing Bush can break any play at any time gives the line even more incentive to block for the extra millisecond it takes to spring the play. The difference could have a massive result for Detroit this season.
“I’m excited blocking for him,” Warford said. “It makes you want to stay on your blocks a little bit more and focus on maintaining your blocks.