Bush to the Colts Just Doesn’t Add Up

It’s been in vogue recently to speculate on free agents the Colts might sign. Among the ideas gaining traction around the web is the idea of Indy scooping up New Orleans Saints tailback/kick returner Reggie Bush.

To my knowledge, this has not reached the rumor stage. That is to say, I haven’t heard anyone say the Colts are actually interested in Bush, merely that they should be.

Let me be clear on two points:

1. The Colts won’t sign Reggie Bush.

2. The Colts shouldn’t sign Reggie Bush.

Parsing the first point is simple enough. The Colts don’t sign big name free agents. They just don’t. It’s part of the organizational culture. That’s a good thing because free agency is not a good way to build your football team. 

Obviously, I’m always in favor of picking up any player that can help the team and is cheap. The old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a bad one year deal”.  That’s true. Obviously, there’s an asking price where it becomes beneficial to sign almost any player, including Reggie Bush.  Let’s set any far-flung bargain basement scenarios aside for moment and speak realistically, however.

Reggie Bush is not going to be cheap. Therefore, Reggie Bush is not going to be a Colt.

If the Colts do any toe-dipping into the free agent pool, they need to be looking at securing a top line safety to improve the woeful defense. Beyond that, a veteran stop-gap defensive tackle or offensive tackle could really help. Signing a tailback/kick returner simply doesn’t make any sense.

The issue goes deeper than just what the Colts will do.

Signing Reggie Bush would be a colossal mistake.

1. Bush can’t stay healthy.

He’s never played more than 10 games in a season, and he’s never had more than 157 carries in a year either. Why on earth would Indy spend big money a guy who has shown no ability to stay healthy? The Colts are already dealing with too many guys on their roster now who show an inability to stay on the field. Signing Bush would be a mockable offense from the start.

2. Bush is a terrible running back.

Forget his versatility for a moment and focus on his production.  He has none. Granted, he’s right at 4 YPC for his career, but didn’t get over that mark for his first three years in the league.  He had a strong 2009 season, but the rest of his record is spotty. He’s gained 2090 yards in five years in the NFL. He had a negative DVOA rushing four of his five years in the league, and was even a negative receiving in two of his five years.

He’s. not. that. good.

3. Bush is a terrible fit in the Indy offense.

Some say he seems like a perfect Colt, but the truth is that he fits poorly in the Indy system. Bush’s ability is largely as a receiver, as he did have some years where he was highly effective catching the ball. Unfortunately, Indy runs a system that mostly runs three wide and exhibits relatively few formations. The Colts are their best when they can run no-huddle and execute any play from their base offense. The Colts are not like the Saints who utilize a wide variety of looks, shifts, and personnel groupings to create mismatches.

Bush is not the kind of player that can stay on the field play after play as Manning goes no huddle. He’s a novelty. He’s meant to cause confusion based on how he lines up. That’s just not the kind of thing that can be seamlessly integrated into the Indy offense in a couple of weeks.  He’s square peg in Indy’s round hole in part because he’s not an effective blocker. He’s not Edge or Addai when it comes to picking up the blitzing linebacker. 

On top of everything else, the Colts have a new runningbacks coach who is likely to emphasize an entirely new running style. The Colts are going to be looking for more ‘downhill’ power running.  The selection of Delone Carter is a big step in that direction. Bush would be a retreat back to a style the Colts are likely to abandon now that Gene Huey is gone.

4. The one thing he can do, he can’t really do.

Bush is an electric punt returner…or at least he was.  The last two seasons, however, he returned 41 punts for 222 yards. That’s about 5.4 yards a punt. The Colts awful punt return game last year? It averaged 6.9 yards a return (209 yards on 31 returns).  Bush hasn’t been a dynamic returner since 2008.

Reggie Bush simply makes no sense on any level for the Colts. He’s bad at staying healthy. He’s bad at running the ball. He’s not a great fit stylistically in the offense. He’s a mediocre punt returner.

Unless he’s willing to sign super cheap, Reggie Bush is simply not a viable option for the Colts.