Monday, October 02, 2006

Reggie Bush v. Mario Williams: A standoff

I wouldn't get too used to that thing, Reg.

Mario Williams finally got his first sack this week. Sure, it was against a squalid Dolphins line that actually has allowed the most sacks in the NFL so far this year. He's not playing very well. I understand these things.

Across the Texas-Louisiana border, we have Reggie Bush and his standout message board. The Saints are 3-1, I'm very happy for them, their fans have been through a lot this year. They're a great story. Theres only one problem here: Reggie Bush hasn't actually played well yet either.

Every Texans game I've seen this year, we've been subjected to some discussion over this issue, and everyone is in a huge rush to anoint Mario as Sam Bowie. The problem is, with these dunderheads in charge of broadcasting these games not really doing any research (Bill Maas, anybody?), they just automatically assume that Reggie Bush is tearing up the NFL because the Saints are 3-1.

There's nobody who hated Charlie Casserley more than I did. I'm the kind of person who roots for Phillip Buchanon to tear his ACL every time he goes back to take a punt. And yes, the Texans should have traded down if they were going to select Williams, so as to secure some more assets. However, as of today, neither Williams nor Bush are playing well enough to warrant their lofty draft status.

Any way you cut it, Reggie Bush hasn't played well this year. He's not in the top 32 NFL players among rushing. Yes, he splits carries with Deuce McAllister--the same Deuce McAllister that is in the top 32. Laurence Maroney (294) and Joseph Addai (207) both have more rushing yards. He's not even the best rookie running back in his own division so far; that would be Jerious Norwood, who has 70 more yards than Bush on 19 less carries. Hell, even Maurice Drew (118 on only 20 carries) and Mike Bell (114 on only 27) aren't far behind Reggie's pathetic 145 yards in 45 carries. If Reggie is so great, why is he averaging .7 yards less per carry than McAllister, who wasn't really a franchise running back to begin with?

Now, to be fair, Reggie is leading the NFL in receptions and recieving yards by a running back. So yes, he can't be summed up purely by his running alone, but the thing is: This guy was supposed to be a can't miss talent, he was supposed to be special. Right now, assuming he starts rushing like a solid NFL back, he looks more like Brian Westbrook mk. II than Marshall Faulk mk. II.

As of today, Mario Williams has seven tackles, good for around sixty fifth among NFL linemen, in a big lumpy tie. He also has one and a half sacks, which is again, right around middle of the pack for NFL linemen. Then again, as usual with the Texans, it is hard to put context into these numbers. Williams is at least average, yes, but he's also been double-teamed from the get-go because the rest of the Texans defensive line is absolutely pathetic. As is most of the non-DeMeco Ryans defenders in general so far. Williams is also a key part in one of the worst defenses in the NFL, make no mistake about that. The problem is, unlike Bush and the skill position players, it's really impossible to tell how good Williams is without watching him every play.

What we have is a perceived talent gap based mainly on the teams individual records. Mario Williams may not end up better than Reggie Bush, but right now, Reggie Bush isn't even better than Laurence Maroney. Through four rounds, I'd say it's about a draw. A draw that is almost as ugly as actually watching the Texans play every week.

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