Every Monday during the summer, positive or negative, we’re counting down the top 10 turning points from the season before.
When the Detroit Lions signed running back Reggie Bush prior to the 2013 season, most knew he’d be a major focal point for the offense.
Following a week one victory over the Minnesota Vikings which saw Bush rack up 90 yards rushing and 101 receiving with a score, the signs were encouraging. Bush looked unstoppable, and allowed Detroit’s offense time to settle in, then come back despite an early deficit taking plenty of pressure off others.
However, the main knock on Bush throughout his entire NFL career has been durability. After facing such a heavy workload the week before, how would the star runner fare on the road against the Arizona Cardinals?
The answer was not well.
Early in the second quarter against the Cardinals without doing much on the ground previously, Bush was hit with a helmet in the knee, and was rendered injured and ineffective. Though he continued to try and play through the injury, the subsequent results weren’t nearly as good as before.
Bush would finish with a rough 25 yards on the ground and 44 through the air, a far cry from his game-changing totals the prior week, as the Lions fell to Arizona late due to avoidable penalties and plenty of offensive inconsistency.
Much of the reason Detroit fell apart late was because they couldn’t depend on a wobbly Bush to carry the load and melt the clock with tough runs and big plays. Bush had overworked the Vikings the week before, and in the second game of the season, it became clear that without him, the Lions were the same offense they had been the season before in his absence; Calvin Johnson and not much else.
Most could not have known it at the time, but this loss in just the second game of the season was a sign of things to come for Detroit in 2013, and one of the defeats that ended up costing Jim Schwartz his job. When Bush tended to disappear with injury or inconsistency, so too did the Lions’ offense and entire killer instinct. It was if he was the entire stir stick for the metaphorical drink.
Though this early defeat could have been overcome without him, it’s hard to imagine the Lions falling apart in epic fashion against a solid Cardinals team if Bush was healthy and up to speed. Chances are, he would have made a play or two to help turn the game around and perhaps even mitigate some usual discipline problems.
Early on in 2013, Lions’ fans learned that life with a dinged up Reggie Bush was an ugly prospect to face. It was a lesson that would be learned again.