Today is the seventh day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Come back every day between now and mid-March for his in-depth film and statistical analysis and check out the upcoming schedule below
Season stats: 16 games (one start at cornerback), four defensive tackles, two defensive missed tackles; 14 special teams tackles, one special teams missed tackle, seven special teams penalties
Best game: Week 17 loss in Minnesota (three total special teams tackles; 0.5 PFF special teams rating)
Worst game: Week 1 loss to San Francisco (42 snaps at cornerback, four defensive tackles, one defensive penalty; minus-2.6 PFF rating)
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: Minus-5.1 on defense (fifth-worst on Packers); minus-2.0 on special teams (second-worst on Packers)
Expectations at the start of the season: Medium
Expectations were … Not met
Looking live: Bush was brought back to the Packers last offseason after signing a three-year, $5.25 million contract. Though he’s typically thought of as the team’s best special teams performer, that’s a good amount of money for Green Bay to invest in such a player. When training camp opened, it was Bush starting at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams. Yes, believe it or not, six months ago, Bush was ahead of Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House on the cornerback depth chart. Bush, 28, may have just been holding that spot until one of his younger competitors could overtake him, but the experiment with him starting lasted longer than expected. When Week 1 of the regular season began, Bush was out there with the starting defense, playing 42 snaps in a loss to the 49ers. However, he was benched a week later and played only 47 defensive snaps the remainder of the season.
Upon further review: Bush clearly doesn’t have the skill set to be a cornerback in the NFL, especially not in a starting role. He somewhat surprisingly kept the spot throughout training camp and preseason, but part of that reason was due to a shoulder injury to House. It was House who was emerging throughout preseason as the likely starting cornerback opposite Williams. But, in the first regular-season game, Bush was exposed by the 49ers. Bush knows how to hit and isn’t hesitant to put his body on the line to make a tackle, but he doesn’t have the necessary coverage skills. In that one game, Bush went from the No. 2 cornerback to fifth on the depth chart. On special teams, Bush had a disappointing team-worst seven penalties. This was not a great season for Bush to justify his $5 million contract that still has two years remaining on it.
Overall 2012 grade: C-
Status for 2013: 98 percent chance of being on the Packers’ Week 1 active roster. Bush was put into a situation early this season that would likely end in failure when he was asked to play outside cornerback. There’s no chance Green Bay will make that mistake again. However, his special teams penalties and salary that accompanies them leaves a small possibility that the Packers will get rid of him. Granted, there’s only a small chance of that, but it would save the team some money if it could find a rookie-contract player to fill Bush’s special teams role. The question is whether there will be a player on the roster next season capable of performing at Bush’s level on special teams. The Packers can somewhat afford to use a roster spot on Bush (a player who is pretty much special teams only), but they might prefer that spot go to a young, developing player who has a chance to help them on offense or defense.