To get a better read of exactly what this means to the Saints, I turned to Scouts Inc. guru Matt Williamson.
“This is not good news for a guy whose whole game is based on his speed and quickness,’’ Williamson said. “He’s had leg injuries before and he’s never been a quick healer. Even when he’s come back, it generally has been at least a couple of games before he really gets into a rhythm. It’s really too bad because, going back to last year’s playoffs, through the preseason and into the start of the regular season, he was looking healthier than he had in a long time and he was running very well. This is going to hurt the Saints in a lot of ways.’’
Williamson said there’s no one person who can step in and replace Bush, who is used as a running back, receiver and a return man.
“Nobody else in the league has a guy quite like him,’’ Williamson said. “He’s so unique. He’s a running back who makes everyone else around him better and usually it’s the other way around. He’s so instrumental in making a defense declare what it’s doing because you can put him in motion and find out exactly what the defense is going to do. Now, it’s going to be a lot harder for the Saints to scheme things.’’
As a running back, Bush has never been a work-horse type runner and the Saints still have Pierre Thomas, who handles a lot of carries.
“As far as just the running game, they’ve usually used Reggie with another guy or two,’’ Williams said. “They’ve seemed reluctant to ever trust Pierre to be a true work-horse type, but they might not have a choice now and he’s going to have to step up because they still are going to have to run the ball and eat the clock. If they’re not able to do this, it’s really going to hurt their defense as well as their offense.’’
The Saints also frequently line Bush up as a wide receiver, mostly in the slot. Thomas doesn’t really have those capabilities and Williamson said he doesn’t expect the Saints to ask Thomas or any of New Orleans’ backup running backs to take on Bush’s duties as a receiver.
“My immediate thought is that they’re going to have to rely even more on their depth at wide receiver,’’ Williamson said. “That’s one of their biggest strengths and this injury creates a weakness. You try to fix that weakness by playing to your strengths.’’