Barry Sanders believes Reggie Bush could make all the difference for Detroit

Posted Mar 21, 2013

Barry Sanders made his opinion known when rumors of Reggie Bush coming to Detroit were circulating, and now he can't wait to see the new Lion in action

Barry Sanders
RB Barry Sanders (Photo: AP Images)

To put it mildly, Barry Sanders is not one to be outspoken.

That is why I really took notice when he campaigned for Reggie Bush via Twitter.

Before it was even confirmed Bush was visiting Detroit, Sanders tweeted, "Hey, I'd love to see @ReggieBush here in the D. I've always been outspoken (for me) about how important I think the run game is. Even today."

On Wednesday, Tim Twentyman and I spoke with Barry and Herman Moore on the effectiveness of top wide receiver-running back tandems, and I had the opportunity to ask Barry what his thought process was in sending out that tweet.

He paused for a second and then said, "Well, hey, to me, it just felt like a great move."

Point blank, it was Barry being a fan.

Of course, it went a lot further than the throngs of loyal Lions fans expressing excitement toward Reggie Bush coming to Detroit.

Barry's tweet even made it to Tuesday night's free agent dinner when president Tom Lewand saw it and flashed it to Bush.

The ultimate bargaining chip.

As it turns out, Bush recognized how perfect his skill set blended with the Lions' offense, so he didn't need too much convincing.

But the blatant support from Barry says a lot about the positive impact bringing in Bush could have on the Lions' offense.

"You just hope that everything gels and the chemistry is there," he said. "You still factor into the mix the other running backs: Bell and Leshoure. But you would think that really shores things up offensively."

It is rare that a team would have one significant piece missing on either side of the ball keeping it from contending, but Jahvid Best could represent that piece for the Lions.

Detroit had the opportunity to see his skill set in action in 2010 and the first five games of 2011 when Best was the Lions' featured back.

He showcased the same burst of speed, pass-catching ability and threat to break for the endzone on every play.

It was a significant loss when Best suffered his second concussion of the season Week 6 of 2011 and may not be a coincidence that, from that point on, the Lions went 5-6 after starting the season 5-0.

"So much of what we had hoped would happen with Jahvid, I think Reggie Bush has certainly shown himself to be that kind of player," said Sanders. "(He) can hit the long ball and so, to me, it just sounded like a great match.

"We all go back to his college days and, obviously, the kind of player he was there. Then the last two years in Miami to see how well he’s come running the ball – it really sounded like it could really be an important and big, big signing."

It's difficult not to get excited when thinking of the possibilities, especially when history shows us the effectiveness of an offense with a marquee player at both running back and wide receiver.

For Barry Sanders, Herman Moore was his compliment for eight seasons from 1991-98, and - while both obviously had standalone talent - the pair created headaches for defensive coordinators leaguewide.

"(Teams) had to guess a lot of times," said Barry. "Sometimes they'd load the box, then other times they certainly had to double Herman. I think he's the only guy that I can think of that I played with that they would have had to double."

Moore added, "The beauty about it is that, while we talk about tandems and you look at receiver and running back, we had so many other good players.

"Then also having a good line and just leaders that were throughout our unit, it made it to where we could transition our offense to really go – regardless of the defense that we thought we were going to face the week before."

That is something the Lions are hoping they will be able to do in 2013 after experiencing a full season of defenses getting creative in order to stop wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

"When you have a guy running the football that can take the ball the distance, it really matters to a defense," said Sanders. "With Calvin there and Reggie there, you would think that would really create havoc."

It is that niche skill set that the Lions are hoping Bush will bring to the table. Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell have shown their ability to run between the tackles, but a home run threat would make all the difference in how teams try to cover Johnson.

Herman Moore
WR Herman Moore (Photo: AP Images)

Hopefully what happened with Barry and Herman can happen with Calvin and Reggie. Teams would actually flip-flop who they were targeting based on which player was having the better game.

"You have to go and talk to Tony Dungys and all the defensive coordinators that played against us," said Barry. "Bill Parcells and all those guys. Certainly that happened and sometimes they’d guess right ... most of the time they’d guess wrong."

Much of the time, defenses would load the box against Sanders, who led the league in rushing four times and became the first running back to record five 1,500-yard rushing seasons.

Moore, a self-proclaimed trash talker, relished in making defenses pay for turning the focus away from him.

"We knew Barry was Superman – that’s what he was called," he said. "Myself and Brett Perriman were Batman and Robin. But, at the same time, I felt I had some superpowers, too; more than just Batman with a belt and a couple weapons here and there.

"You feel slighted when teams feel that (Barry was) the main weapon they have to stop because we're all on the same level.

"If teams felt like they were going to slight me, I did want to make them pay. Especially when they said, 'Hey, the only guy we’ve got to worry about is Barry.' Then they found out otherwise later on that they should have paid a little bit more attention."

Bush will have the opportunity to feel slighted next season when teams undoubtedly force him to reveal himself as a threat.

He has to be drooling at the thought.

"I've watched the film and see how defenses play (Johnson) and a lot of respect is demanded on his part," said Bush. "There's a lot of double coverages and it's really a running back's dream."

That what Lions fans - Barry Sanders and Herman Moore included - are looking forward to see.

"Hey," said Sanders, "us Lions fans are excited."