What type of player did the Chicago Bears get when they signed Michael Bush to a four year contract in March? There's a lot of misconceptions on what type of player Bush is and what type of player he can be in Chicago.
Is Bush the type of player who can come in and be a starter if Forte decides to hold out part of the season? To answer those questions I broke Bush's game on tape as an Oakland Raider to find out what precisely the Bears have in the 6-foot-1 240-pound running back.
Michael Bush is a big running back and he runs hard and is pretty fast and nimble for his size. He has good vision to the hole and good cutback ability for a player of his size. He can accelerate through the hole that he sees and pick up positive yards. He played in an inside-zone rushing offensive in Oakland much like he will here in Chicago and performed above average in that offense.
Bush has quick feet and soft hands and can make people miss better than most running backs. Once he gets going Bush can be tough to bring down in the open field. He rarely has carries go for negative yards, but the Raiders have a pretty strong run blocking offensive line.
Bush gets a lot of good yards between the tackles as he doesn't have a lot of speed to threaten the edge like Forte does. He's a grinder, a pile pusher that could be a really solid compliment to Forte's style.
Also benefiting Bush's production is that the Raiders like to go jumbo a lot and bring in sixth offensive lineman, make him eligible and put him on the edge of the formation. They get good yards out of this heavy formation look.
Bush is pretty athletic for his size he can jump over a pile, cut back into an open hole and get into the second level pretty quickly.
Bush is not a power running back any means even at size well above average most NFL backs. Perhaps Bush's biggest weakness is an upright style that leaves him vulnerable to being cut down at the legs a lot.
Getting tripped up or cut down below the waist was Bush's biggest weakness that I saw on tape. He isn't a lower the shoulders and fight his way forward for extra yards kind of player.
He can be tough to bring down, but that is more related to his overall size versus his style of running. Bears fans should not expect Michael Bush to run like Marion Barber did for the Bears last year.
Also of concern is the Bears' offensive line and it's tendency to give up a lot of yards behind the line of scrimmage. Bush does not do well with defenders around his feet or when there is penetration.
Bush is by no means a short yardage back so if the thought process is that he will be the answer to Matt Forte's short yardage struggles, Bears fans may want to rethink that.
He gets most of his positive yards when there is a good surge in front of him and he can lean into the pile. He can be cut down pretty easily if there is a lot of traffic.
What is going to make this Bears offense successful are the new weapons the Bears have in place. Bush can be successful in Chicago if he's not asked to fulfill the role Matt Forte has had to since his rookie season. Bush is not a franchise back like Forte and the Bears probably shouldn't consider hims a starter capable of replacing Forte.
He is a very good complimentary back that could really lengthen Forte's career in Chicago. He could succeed as a starter and keep the Bears' offense efficient enough but he doesn't have any where near the home run ability of Forte.
The primary goal the Bears should have for Bush is to lessen Forte's carries and prolong his career. When you watch a guy like Bush run you learn to appreciate what the Bears have in Forte even more. Forte is an all-around back who can win in all phases of the running game with his athleticism.
What the Bears have in Bush is a player that shouldn't be the primary starter, but if it came down to it could be productive enough in a balanced run-oriented attack.
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