Reggie Bush fumbled in the first quarter on Sunday. It was his fourth carry of the game.
And he didn't get another the rest of the game.
Truth is he didn't see the field the entire rest of the first half. He did enter the game in the second half, but by then the game was a desperation affair for the Dolphins and they were passing practically every down. So Bush got no second half carries.
Afterward, Bush admitted he had been benched by coach Joe Philbin for fumbling.
"I was benched," Bush said. "And I deserved it. If I was the coach, I would have benched myself."
Interesting. Honest. And very respectful of Bush to let his coach off the hook ...
Because Philbin's approach with Bush is worthy of examination.
First, the coach could not bring himself to admit he benched Bush although that is exactly what he did. When he was asked, the man who benched Bush for fumbling, fumbled over his words on the benching.
"We had planned to – we’ve got a game coming up real fast – we had planned to use guys," Philbin said. "We’d been using Daniel Thomas and we used Lamar [Miller] sparingly last week. Our hope was to, not for this reason, but our hope was to spread the plays out a little bit."
That's a fair explanation except that earlier this year after a Bush fumble, the Dolphins coach benched Bush similarly. And the club didn't have a game four days later that time.
And, of course, it was merely a coincidence that the so-called spreading of plays began immediately after Bush fumbled.
But here's the question: Philbin had a quarterback on Sunday who threw three interceptions. That's three turnovers to Bush's one. One of those interceptions was even returned for a touchdown.
And Philbin stuck with Tannehill until the game was well decided midway through the fourth quarter when Miami trailed by the final margin of 37-3.
And Philbin was equally displeased with Tannehill as he was with Bush for his misdeeds.
"He had gone ... I don’t want to jinx the kid, but he had gone 98 throws without them," Philbin said of Tannehill's interceptions. "So I don’t know that you necessarily have to throw three. I’m not blaming him for every single one either. I don’t know that it’s absolutely mandatory to have a game like this."
So why the difference in how Bush and Tannehill get handled?
It's simple, folks.
Tannehill is the future. Bush is not.
The fact is the Dolphins are going to live or die with Tannehill this year. And next year. And probably the year after that, as well. If he plays well, he's going to play. If he plays poorly, he's still going to be on the field this year and next year for sure.
The Dolphins are committed to Tannehill. Rightly so, I might add. They have a huge investment in him and that's the way it's going to be.
Bush is another story.
What you saw Sunday is basically how the Dolphins feel about Bush. They love him. They start him. They roll with him.
But only as long as he doesn't make a mistake.
And if he does make that mistake ... the Dolphins feel they have viable options. Daniel Thomas, whom they like gets the next most carries and actually had more than Bush on Sunday. And Miami also has rookie Lamar Miller in the stable. Coaches like him, too. Those guys are the future. Those guys will definitely be here next year.
Sunday proved Bush is not an untouchable.
And because of that fact, Bush's future is uncertain. He is unsigned for next year and it is certain he will not get a new deal before the season ends. When he eventually signs (with someone), he'lll probably get a deal that pays him in the millions. If you combine what Miller and Thomas will make next year it might only barely reach into seven figures.
This is not just a math problem for Bush. Thomas and Miller are younger than Bush. At the running back spot, age is important because younger typically means fewer carries and less wear. So unlike Tannehill, Bush's future in Miami is not certain just as his carries play to play are not certain.
Bottom line: Ryan Tannehill is an untouchable.
Reggie Bush is not.