New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell has seen his numbers decrease significantly. But the former All-Pro is quietly having a very productive season.
Bell, the star running back acquired by the Jets in the offseason, is averaging a mere 50 rushing yards per game after a full year off from football.
So what exactly is wrong? Is there actually a regression in talent from the former All-Pro? Has his production completely disappeared?
A simple “eye test” would tell you otherwise. Because of his unmatched versatility, Bell impacts games in more ways than just one. Bell has been excellent as a pass protection blocker and even better when utilized as a receiver. He is on track for 74 receptions this season.
Jets head coach Adam Gase has clearly (finally) warmed up to the idea of motioning Bell to the outside in the past two weeks.
On the first play of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, Bell showcased his receiving talent with a circus catch near the right boundary. Bell then tweeted a highlight of the catch with the caption, “more than just a running back…”
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This is certainly true.
To the surprise to some, it is probable that the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back will reach 1,000 total yards this upcoming Sunday.
Bell is currently at 925 total yards (557 rushing and 368 receiving) with four total touchdowns through 11 weeks. An average that will likely end him close to a very respectable 1,500 total yards. When discussing Bell’s lack of yards on the ground, it is impossible to ignore the Jets’ offensive line situation.
To put it nicely, the only thing worse than the Week 1-10 offensive line was Vernon Gholston‘s Jets tenure. Although pass protection has dramatically improved over the course of the Jets three game winning streak, run blocking has not.
The combination of poor offensive line play, and Bell’s patented patient running style has not exactly been a match made in heaven. Despite the poor combination, Bell has made the most of what he can, racking up chunks of yards the few times there are openings.
His talent hasn’t gone anywhere, and the numbers are finally beginning to reflect it. If Bell finishes the season (five remaining games) with a few strong performances, the narrative that he can’t play good football anymore will be completely pushed to the curb.
Le’Veon Bell is still one of the best backs in the game. And any defender assigned to tackle him would tell you the same.