Saints Spreading Reggie Bush's Duties Around
Mike Smith, the Falcons' coach, can look on film and see the Saints have plenty of weapons -- still more than any team in the NFC -- but Bush was one of a kind. The Falcons, without question, do not have to work as hard devising a game plan, though they would never admit it.
Drew Brees, the Saints' quarterback, knows how versatile Bush was and what a matchup problem he presents. Bush is gone for perhaps six weeks with a broken leg and New Orleans will have to spread his jobs, not job, around.
"He can sit in the backfield and carry the ball. In a heavy personnel package or nickel you can motion out of the backfield," Brees said. "You can protect. You can split him out to the single receiver side. Certainly as a punt returner, you look at all the things that he can do. The job that he does might have to be broken into two or three different guys picking up the slack where he kind of left off. That's why he's so valuable.
"He's definitely a guy that teams have to prepare for and have a plan for. 'How are we going to defend this guy if he motions out of the backfield?' If he just shifts and gets split out to a single receiver side, just in a lot of ways. If anything that's more time they don't have to game plan for him and can spend on something else."
Sean Payton, the mastermind of the Saints offense, was not going to hint at how he might use Chris Ivory or Ladell Betts to fill Bush's role. The fact is can they cut like Bush, get separation like Bush, even in motion? No way.
Pierre Thomas will get Bush's plays inside the offense and be responsible for more snaps on the field. Ivory is going to get some sweeps and power runs, some things that did not come Bush's way.
The Saints are going to spread Bush's targets and touches. The Falcons just have to be prepared for more throws to the tight end or more throws down field.
"When Reggie's not in the lineup, who's getting those balls," Brees said. "You can't sit here and say it's just another running back or it's just going to be spread amongst the running backs. Instead of him hoping to get five yards, maybe it's throwing to the tight end to get five yards.
"Maybe it's taking another shot play and knowing we have that guy to check it down to. Those touches could be spread among anybody on offense, tight ends, other backs. Receivers. I think that's a pretty good assessment."