by Matt Bowen
January 22, 02010
We all know what Reggie Bush did last weekend against the Cardinals in the divisional playoffs. I wrote about it right after the game because, well, I was impressed.
Was it Bush’s best performance as a pro? Considering he racked up 298 total yards and scored two touchdowns — on only 12 touches — it had to be pretty close. But what we all talked about was how he finished runs, the way he accelerated up the field and how it reminded us of Bush vs. the Pac-10 when he was at USC.
However, the question now is simple: Can he do it again?
I still view Bush as a creative tool for Sean Payton's offense in New Orleans, and if the Saints want to head to Miami for the Super Bowl in two weeks, Reggie is going to have to make plays — against a nasty defense from Minnesota. The Vikings can pressure with their front four, which allows them to play coverage in the secondary. Plus, when they do use their Tampa 2 scheme, Bush — who likes to hit the edge of the defense — essentially will be running against a nine-man front with the corners sitting hard on the run.
But that doesn’t mean that Payton won’t find ways to get him involved.
Does he play in the slot? How is he used on third downs? Do the Saints use pre-snap movement to get the matchup they desire? Because when Bush is in the game, he’s in there for a reason — to get the ball.
Like most players in this league who are used in multiple ways in multiple formations, expect to see Bush used in the Saints game plan as a weapon. He could align as the “X” receiver to the open (or weak side), or he can align as a No.3 in a bunch formation. But wherever he is, he will align there to beat a Vikings defender in a one-on-one matchup. Get him the ball in open space and let him use his athleticism and speed to pick up yardage in chunks.
Plus, we can’t forget the kicking game. Big plays on special teams in championship games can be game winners, and field position is huge — both for Payton’s game plan and Gregg Williams defense. Use the kicking game to make Brett Favre drive the length of the field.
But can Bush do it again? Can he replicate the best pro performance of his career in the biggest pro game of his career?
One game. That’s all that stands between playing for the Super Bowl title and turning in your playbook and checking back into town in late spring for mini-camp. From my perspective, despite the enormous number of weapons the Saints have on offense with QB Drew Brees, Bush has to show up. He has to be that dynamic player we saw last week — the same player we envisioned when the Saints drafted him No. 2 overall.
The stage is set for Sunday, and now Reggie has to deliver — again.
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