New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is quick to praise players on opposing teams, and it’s always a good thing to get his perspective and mini-scouting reports on stars who play for an AFC East rival. The Patriots will be traveling down south for their first game against Ryan Tannehill and the ‘Fins this year, and Belichick shared his thoughts on dynamic running back Reggie Bush and Tannehill’s slot receiver Davone Bess.
Belichick on Bess (via ESPN Boston), “He’s quick, he’s got good speed, he’s got good hands, he’s a smart route runner, he’s got explosive one-step quickness, he’s a hard guy to tackle, he’s strong. He has good balance, he’s a hard guy to match up with one-on-one, he can catch, and he’s obviously smart. He does a lot of different things, different positions, put him in motion, time him up on different releases, crossing routes, pick patterns, option routes, things like that. He’s a good player.”
Bess’s best qualities are his hands and route-running- like most slot receivers. But he’s also good at stretching the field vertically through the seams, and that takes advantage of Tannehill’s arm in the middle of the field. Bess has clearly benefited from this with an average of nearly eight yards per attempt and 55 catches for 715 yards in total. Belichick singles out Bess’s football I.Q. as a receiver, and that’s another noteworthy trait about the Dolphins co-leader in receptions.
Reggie Bush is usually the best offensive weapon that the Dolphins possess, and he will make things very difficult for the Patriots linebackers in pass coverage. None of the three Pats LBs are good in coverage, with both Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower being terrible in this regard (Jerod Mayo is mediocre in coverage as well).
However, Bush has yet to catch a touchdown pass this season and has just 24 receptions overall in 11 games. As a rusher, he is averaging 4.4 yards per carry but has actually been very inconsistent this year and is having a huge down year overall. The whole Dolphins running game is anyway.
But here’s what Belichick said about Bush, “He’s a dynamic player, and I think you’ve got to know where he is whenever he is on the field. He could be in the backfield, out of the backfield, they can hand him the ball, they can throw him the ball, and he can get it in a lot of different ways. He’s got good strength for his size. I’m not saying he’s a fullback, but he runs with good power for his size. He’s got great quickness, great speed, he can run through tackles, he can run around people.”
Again, this is why I love Belichick’s insight on opposing players, because it’s all accurate. He’s a lot stronger than some people think, and it’s amazing to watch his mix of size, speed, and pass-catching ability. It’s too bad he hasn’t shown the third characteristic much this year, and this is a game in which he will have trouble running it against a tough Pats run D. The slump won’t be broken, but he can burn the Patriots if they have another missed tackle spree.
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