Bush: Dolphins have 'sense of urgency'
On the Miami Dolphins' weekly day off, Reggie Bush was working.
He texted a number of Dolphins teammates Tuesday to say that with Miami still winless after three games, there needed be a clear sense of urgency to kickstart a turnaround - and fast.
The next opportunity for that to happen comes Sunday, in Bush's hometown, when the Dolphins visit San Diego with hopes of avoiding an 0-4 start.
''I think we're underachieving right now as a team, but more so on the offense side of the ball,'' Bush said Wednesday. ''We have so much talent, especially at the receiver position and the running back position. I sent guys a text message last night saying our core players, our leaders, we've got to step up. We've got to start to make plays. When our number's called, we've got to make those plays ... all those things that we get paid to do.''
Make no mistake: Bush is pointing the finger at himself as well.
The Dolphins consider Bush their top running back, even though he ranks third on his own team and 51st across the NFL in yards rushing through three games. Bush had 13 yards on 10 carries in last weekend's loss to Cleveland - his second-worst total in 29 career games in which he had double-digit rushing attempts - and lost a fumble at the Browns' 19-yard line late in the first quarter.
So on Wednesday, after a practice where the music blaring inside the Dolphins' practice bubble was akin to something that would accompany a prizefighter entering the ring, Bush said there's no better time than now to change things around.
''It's going to come,'' said Bush, who has 69 yards on 27 carries so far with Miami. ''I've just got to be patient and not press too much. This last game, I got caught pressing a little too much. I've been in this league long enough that I shouldn't be having any turnovers. I had a turnover last game that was pretty costly in the red zone. Correct the mistakes, continue to practice, continue to chop away and we'll be fine.''
The Dolphins made a move that may help Wednesday, adding running back Steve Slaton off waivers. Defensive end Ryan Baker was waived to make room for Slaton, who ran for 1,282 yards for Houston as a rookie in 2008 but only 550 in parts of 26 games since.
Even at 0-3, a place only five teams out of the 32 NFL clubs are right now, that seems to remain the mantra in the Dolphins' locker room. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano tried to lighten the mood by deadpanning a few jokes. A few players yelled and joked with one another after practice, and if panic has set in, no one was showing that to be the case.
''We're not going to hang our heads,'' left tackle Jake Long said. ''We don't have those type of guys. We're still working hard. Coach Sparano keeps us focused. We've got good leadership on this team. We go out, we work hard and we're going to keep working until we get that win. We're going to get it.''
Sparano said the Dolphins need to get Bush the ball in space, then let him use his speed. So far, that hasn't worked as well as Miami envisioned when they acquired Bush this past offseason in a splashy move.
That's hardly the only Miami problem so far. The Dolphins are averaging 410 yards per game from scrimmage, but only have five touchdowns.
''A lot of things need to change,'' wide receiver Davone Bess said, ''in all phases of the game.''
Since last season, the Dolphins have the league's longest current losing streak. Miami last won a game on Dec. 12, a victory at the New York Jets that has been followed by six consecutive losses.
Miami has, however, won seven of its last eight regular-season meetings with the Chargers since 1995. Bush isn't thinking about either of those trends, nor will he find extra motivation in going to his hometown this week, either.
''Going back home is great,'' Bush said. ''It's going to be good to see all my family and getting a chance to go back and play in the Chargers' stadium, but this is business as usual for us. We've got to focus on winning the game here as a team. We're a winless team right now and that doesn't feel good at all. The bigger picture here is to get a win.''
It's daunting for any team to lose a ton of ground early in any division race - probably especially so in the AFC East.
The Dolphins are one of only two teams, Minnesota being the other, to already be three games back in their division races. Buffalo is 3-0 and one of the NFL's top surprises so far, with New England and the Jets both 2-1.
Catching those teams will be tough enough even at 0-3, and 0-4 would make the already-difficult task that much harder.
''Our division is playing great right now,'' Bush said. ''Everybody except us. So we've got to get on the ball and just change some things around here.''