Lions land Reggie Bush
MAR 13, 2013 1:25p ET
He knows that if a defense has to pay so much attention to Calvin Johnson, it’s only natural there’s going to be more running room for him.
“It’s a running back’s dream,” Bush said Wednesday, shortly after agreeing to a four-year, $16-million free-agent contract with the Detroit Lions.
This was one of the worst-kept secrets of the free-agent season. For weeks, there had been growing speculation that Bush would be coming to Detroit. Nearly everyone agreed that he was exactly what the Lions’ offense needs right now to complement quarterback Matthew Stafford and Johnson, the game’s best receiver.
Even Bush admitted that it all “almost seemed too perfect.”
He said he was so excited, thinking about all the possibilities that being on the field with Johnson and Stafford might mean, that he slept for only two or three hours the night before.
“It just made sense,” he said. “It felt right from the beginning. Everything made sense. They didn’t really have to sell me too much on it. They just pulled up one clip and I was already sold.”
What that clip showed was opponents putting seven, or even six, defenders in the box because they were so worried about trying to contain Johnson on the outside.
“That’s the first thing we talked about,” said Bush, who flew into town Tuesday night and didn’t leave until after an introductory news conference early Wednesday afternoon. “When we were watching film and see those safeties deep and the safety rolling over double-covering Calvin Johnson, it’s a running back’s dream.
“We have to be able to run the ball in that situation. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here is to be able to bring a balanced attack and help take some of the pressure off Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. I think it’s going to work out well.”
Other teams that were interested in him included Arizona, Cincinnati and Washington.
Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew closed the deal before they ever really had a chance.
Bush, 28, will give the Lions the big-play potential from the running-back position that has been missing since Jahvid Best suffered a potential career-ending concussion during the sixth game of the 2011 season.
The Lions finished tied with San Diego for the fewest explosive run plays -- 20 yards or more -- in the NFL last year. They had only four in 16 games, none by starting running back Mikel Leshoure.
Bush had six runs of 20-plus yards in 2012 and seven in 2011 with the Dolphins.
His production should be only enhanced by joining an offense with Johnson and Stafford.
They’ll help Bush and Bush should help them.
It was an element that the Lions had to put back into their offense. They were 5-0 when Best got injured in October 2011, and they’ve since lost nine of their last 28 games.
Four years ago, Jim Schwartz coached his first game with the Lions against Bush and the Saints.
Detroit contained Bush, but in the process gave up six touchdown passes.
According to Schwartz, it wasn’t a coincidence. Bush had an impact simply by being on the field.
He can be that much of a threat when used properly.
“The thing that was important to us was not just the talents of Reggie Bush but also the way those talents complement the other players we have on offense, notably Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford,” coach Jim Schwartz said.
“That was really the basis of our interest in Reggie and trying to make such a strong push to get him here and be a weapon in our offense.
“With the boxes we see, with the way the dynamic with Calvin works, it provides opportunity for running backs to make dynamic plays.”
Bush spent the first five years of his career with New Orleans and the last two with Miami. He rushed for 986 yards last season and caught 35 passes for 292 yards.
The Lions knew what he could do on the field, but they had to be certain that Bush would fit in well with the team chemistry.
New special-teams coach coordinator John Bonamego, a former New Orleans assistant, vouched for Bush’s personality and character.
“The thing that we didn’t know is what a good guy he is and what a humble person he is and what a student of the game he is,” Schwartz said. “We think he’s going to fit very well in with the rest of our locker room.”
Bush’s reputation took a hit following allegations that he received improper benefits while in college. A NCAA investigation led to severe sanctions against the USC program. Bush ended up giving back his Heisman Trophy.
It’s clear that he’s matured and learned from his mistakes.
“I’m at the point in my career now where winning is the most important thing to me,” he said. “It’s not about numbers. It’s just about how we can be the most successful.”
Bush was part of a Saints’ NFC championship team that took a step back for a couple years before winning the Super Bowl.
He believes the Lions can make a similar turnaround after going from 10-6 in 2011 to 4-12 last season.
There were reports that the Lions had assured Bush he’d be the No. 1 running back, ahead of Leshoure.
“I definitely know I’ll be out there on the football field a lot,” Bush said. “I’ve done 3-4 carries a game. I’ve done 20-25 carries a game.
“I’m comfortable with when we win. That’s what I’m most comfortable with. That’s what I’m here for is to help this team win.”
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