Buc fans have reason to remember Michael Bush
Posted February 22, 2012 at 11:50 AM
BY IRA KAUFMAN
TAMPA—At the end of the 2008 season, Michael Bush personally dashed Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes as a rookie.
As a veteran, he could have the opportunity to help resurrect the Buccaneers.
Oakland’s fifth-year running back is likely to be available when free agency begins March 13 and his skill set could be intriguing for a struggling organization that craves help in the offensive backfield.
Bush is a powerful runner who is also a stellar threat as a receiver, averaging 11.3 yards on his 37 receptions last season for the Raiders. In 2010, Bush averaged 10.8 yards per catch. Very few backs in the league can approach that kind of production as a target out of the backfield and Tampa Bay’s new coaching staff might envision Bush as a particularly effective weapon for Josh Freeman on third down.
Buc fans remember Bush for his dynamic effort in Tampa during the final game of the 2008 season, when the 9-6 Bucs needed a win against the Raiders to secure an NFC playoff spot. Instead, Bush ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns as Oakland stunned the heavily favored Bucs 31-24 in Jon Gruden’s final game on the Tampa Bay sidelines.
It was Bush who turned in the game’s key play, breaking tackles en route to a 67-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter as the Bucs ended the season on a 4-game losing streak, prompting a coaching change and a veteran purge.
Bush doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on him and he could be a nice fit for a Tampa Bay club lacking proven depth behind LeGarrette Blount. If the Bucs land a back like Bush in free agency, they would have more flexibility at the top of the draft, where some pundits have them selecting Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the No. 5 pick.
Tampa Bay has the resources to sign Bush, who wouldn’t command an exorbitant deal. It’s not a rich free agency class for running backs, but Bush appears to make sense for a coaching staff that is already stressing a punishing, physical attack.