RBs should keep goals private

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - So, Reggie Bush wants to lead the NFL in rushing this season.

Considering that should be the goal of every running back who ever steps on the gridiron, that's not really a big proclamation. But Reggie might want to keep his aspirations to himself in the future instead of making them as public as his alleged violations of NCAA policies while at USC.

You see, publically stating goals or making yardage predictions haven't really worked out well for running backs in the past.

Remember Selvin Young? Neither does anyone else.

The undrafted Young became another in a long line of unheralded Denver Broncos running backs to contribute moderate fantasy production for a season -- he had 960 yards from scrimmage on 140 carries and 35 catches in 2007 -- before disappearing entirely.

Young made the mistake of publically setting a lofty goal before the 2008 season. He said he wanted to rush for 2,000 yards.

In retrospect, that plateau may have been a tad ambitious, considering that Young had never rushed for 1,000 yards and was sitting behind Travis Henry on the Broncos' depth chart.

Young fell 1,697 yards short of his goal and hasn't played in the league since.

Another young back made a similar prediction several years before Young.

In 2003, Houston's Domanick Davis was coming off the first 1,000-yard season in Texans history, and he was feeling mighty fine going into 2004.

Davis stated in the preseason that he thought 2,000 yards was "very possible, if all goes right."

While Davis didn't fall on his face like Young, he still didn't come close to 2,000 yards. In 15 games, the Texans running back rushed for 1,188 yards on 302 carries (3.9 yards per carry), though he did have 14 touchdowns.

The next season, Davis played 11 games and rushed for 976 yards with six total touchdowns. He hasn't played in an NFL game since.

In 2009, Chris Johnson became the envy of Young and Davis when he was the sixth player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

Prior to 2010, Johnson said he could go even higher -- he set the goal of 2,500 yards, a number that would have shattered Eric Dickerson's single-season record by 395 yards if he had reached it.

With defense keying in on him more in 2010, Johnson's yards per carry fell from 5.6 to 4.3 as he rushed for 1,364 yards, which was 1,136 yards -- that's 71 yards per game -- shy of his goal.

In 2011, Johnson held out and ended up being a major fantasy bust, rushing for just 1,047 yards and four touchdowns.

That brings us back to Bush.

In his first season with Miami, the former USC Trojan finally got a chance to be the No. 1 back after he sat behind undrafted players such as Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Mike Bell while playing with the New Orleans Saints. He didn't disappoint.

Bush rushed for 1,086 yards with a 5.0-yard average, the first time he ever received more than 157 carries in a season. In fact, he had 212 carries in the previous three seasons combined, so the Dolphins clearly saw something in Bush that the Saints didn't.

One of those things was good health, as Bush played 15 games last season after averaging 11 games per season from 2007-08 to 2010-2011.

This week, Bush said he wanted the rushing title in 2012.

Bush has a lot of obstacles standing in his way. Daniel Thomas and rookie Lamar Miller are lurking in the Dolphins' backfield, Davone Bess is the team's current No. 1 receiver and raw product Ryan Tannehill may start at quarterback right away.

Plus, there is a strong history of failure for running backs who haven't exercised discretion with their goals, so tread carefully when drafting Bush and hope that he keeps the rest of his ambitions -- like, say, playing a full season for the first time since 2006 -- to himself.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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