Everyone keeps saying that New Orleans signing Darren Sproles was one of the best moves of the rushed 2011 offseason. And they’re right, but it should be noted that Reggie Bush has also excelled since leaving the Bayou for South Florida.
Because of their similarities on the field and their similarly sized frames, Sproles has often been called a poor man’s Reggie Bush. But this year, he’s emerged as one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. Both are having career years.
Who would you rather have on your team?
Experience: 6th season
2011 stats: 14 games, 1243 yards from scrimmage, 5.0 yards per carry, 41 REC, 6.6 yards per catch, 7 TD
Career stats: 74 games, 5475 yards from scrimmage, 4.3 yards per carry, 335 REC, 7.2 yards per catch, 46 TD
Experience: 7th season
2011 stats: 14 games, 1155 yards from scrimmage, 6.5 yards per carry, 79 REC, 8.3 yards per catch, 7 TD
Career stats: 92 games, 3709 yards from scrimmage, 5.1 yards per carry, 225 REC, 9.1 yards per catch, 24 TD
Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, of course. Sproles gets fewer yards per game, but he has historically received significantly fewer touches than Bush.
On 550 career touches, Sproles has averaged 6.7 yards per play. On 1,053 career touches, Bush has averaged just 5.2 yards per play. So on a per-play basis, Sproles has been much more productive. Both players have a touchdown for every 23 touches they’ve had.
So while Sproles is two years older than Bush, he might actually have fresher legs. He’s also dealt with fewer injuries and is less prone to mistakes. Bush has fumbled four times this year, while Sproles has yet to do so.
Finally, something should be said about each guy’s ability as a return threat. Sproles has five career kick/punt return touchdowns, while Bush has four. But he’s had 432 career returns, while Bush has had just 99. Sproles is an effective kick returner, while Bush only returns punts. But Bush has exhibited more home-run punt return ability than Sproles has (although his average is lower). The problem with Bush is that he barely returns anything now, and hasn’t scored since 2008 — he has just one return of 20-plus yards this year (Bush has four and a touchdown).
Gagnon’s take: Bush has the bigger name and has saved face with a solid 2011 season, but Sproles has always been underrated. I don’t care that he’s a couple years older and that his 2011 numbers might be slightly inflated by the presence of Drew Brees, Sproles is still more of an offensive and special-teams threat than Bush is. He’s my guy.
Sean Tomlinson’s take: Injuries are clearly a major factor with Bush, who hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year. But although Bush may be more breakable and he doesn’t quite have the same ability to find the soft spots as a receiver that Sproles has, he’s still shown that he can come closer to being a featured, every down running back. Sproles has averaged 54.2 carries per year, to Bush’s 119.6. I’ll favor Bush, but narrowly.
So, who would you rather?
Last week’s Would You Rather: Marshawn Lynch or Ryan Mathews?