In 2019 a lot was expected out of star running back Le’Veon Bell but expectations were not met. But in 2020, NY Jets fans hope for a different story from Bell.
It’s no secret that NY Jets fans were a bit disappointed with last season. Jets nation was hoping for a better start to the season behind new star running back Le’Veon Bell, but thanks to early-season injuries and a tough schedule, the Jets got off to a 1-7 start and never quite recovered.
Aside from the disappointing start which ultimately led to a 7-9 record that left the Jets out of the playoffs for the ninth straight season, Bell never quite took off the way the fans would have hoped.
The two-time All-Pro came to New York after taking a year off from football due to contract disputes with his former team the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During his time in the Steel City, Bell put up three separate one thousand yard rushing seasons and scored a total of 42 touchdowns in his five years with the team.
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Due to these impressive numbers, Jets fans had high expectations for their new running back coming into the 2019 campaign, however, the then 27-year-old didn’t quite live up to the hype. Bell put up just 789 yards in 15 games averaging 3.2 yards per attempt and 52.6 yards per game, both career lows.
Those aren’t terrible numbers when you compare him to other backs around the league but when you compare last year to the superstar numbers Jets nation were expecting, they’re not very good. Part of this was Bell’s own fault but there were other factors involved.
The first being the struggling offensive line play last year. It was plain to see when it came to the passing game but it may not have been so obvious when it came to the running game. However, it was a big problem for the Jets when Bell would be met by multiple defenders in the backfield.
Another problem at times was some of the play-calling by head coach Adam Gase. Coming into his first season as head coach of the Jets, Gase was supposed to be the answer to all that was missing on the offensive side of the ball, however, the Jets offense struggled at times to get going.
Something fans noticed from their couches was the repeated plays the Jets offense ran, especially in the running game. If fans could notice this, it’s safe to assume the opposing defenses did too and that cannot help the Jets offense in any way.
Despite these struggles last year, I think there we are going to see Bell get back to his former self in the upcoming season. There are multiple reasons for this optimism and Jets’ nation can only hope it works out.
Perhaps the biggest reason to expect a bigger season out of Bell would be the improved offensive line. Joe Douglas has done a phenomenal job in his first offseason as general manager fixing up the poor offensive line.
Signings of Connor McGovern amongst others will make the line more reliable than it’s been in years. The Jets may also take a top-tier offensive tackle with the 11th pick in this year’s draft.
What does this improved offensive line mean for Le’Veon Bell? Hopefully some more space to work with.
As explained earlier, too many times last season Bell had to make defenders miss in the backfield. If the big guys up front can get a little push, Bell may be able to find some open space.
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That open space would do miracles for Bell, as he’s at his best with the ball in his hands and some green in front of him. Bell’s ability to make defenders miss was still evident last season. Perhaps one of the most underrated plays of last season involved Bell hurdling a Cleveland Browns defender early in the year.
His quick feet and great vision were hindered by the lack of space created for him last season. Hopefully for Jets fans, we’ll see him get more space in 2020. Another reason will be a passing game that Jets fans can expect to improve.
With all of these improvements to the team, the Jets can expect a better year from Le’Veon Bell.
Jets nation can expect improvements in the running game as Bell will hopefully reach the thousand-yard mark once again and help the Jets in the red zone a bit more by finding his way into the end-zone more than four times next year.
For Jets fans who are hopeful for a better season from the team, part of that rides on Bell. At the end of the day, the Jets need Bell to be the star that he is expected to be and Jets fans can expect Le’Veon Bell to get back to form in the upcoming season.