NY Jets: 3 reasons why Le’Veon Bell failed with Gang Green

Justin Fried
NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell
NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell /

NY Jets, Le’Veon Bell Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Jets have officially released Le’Veon Bell ending a disappointing tenure with the team.

The NY Jets have officially come to terms with the release of running back Le’Veon Bell ending the former All-Pro’s brief and disappointing tenure with the organization.

Where did things go wrong? Where to start?

The Jets signed Bell to a lucrative four-year, $52.5 million contract in the 2019 offseason with an eye on improving upon an offense that ranked as one of the worst units the year prior.

The move made plenty of sense at the time. The Jets were attempting to build around their young, prospective franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, and acquiring one of the most talented skill position players in the NFL was certainly one way to do that.

But almost immediately, it became apparent that this was a marriage doomed to fail from the start. Bell never found his footing in New York averaging a lowly 3.3 yards per carry in his lone full season with the team.

And despite an offseason of training to get in the best shape of his life, a hamstring injury derailed his 2020 season before it could even really get started. The Jets did what they could to trade Bell, but they couldn’t find any takers.

Thus, Bell was released — something no one would have seen coming some 14 months ago. What happened? How did this happen?

We take a look at the impetus behind Bell’s shortcomings with the Jets.

Next: 3. Le'Veon Bell isn't what he used to be

NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell
NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell /

NY Jets, Le’Veon Bell Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

3. Le’Veon Bell lost a step with the NY Jets

There is no one singular reason for Bell’s failures in New York. No individual person is responsible for his shortcomings. But before we get into the external causes of his lack of success, we must first look internally.

Bell simply isn’t the player that he used to be. This isn’t to say that he isn’t still an excellent weapon for any NFL offense and, if used correctly, a difference-maker for any team he’s a part of.

But Bell isn’t the same player he was during his All-Pro years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Age/mileage has clearly taken its toll as the 28-year-old appears to be at least a step slower than his days in Pittsburgh.

He’s still the intelligent, patient runner that he’s always been. His receiving skills remain among the best of all running backs in the NFL. But he doesn’t have that same breakaway explosiveness that he had with the Steelers.

Bell carried the ball 264 times over 17 games with the Jets. Not a single one of those rushes went for 20 or more yards. Much of that falls on the shoulders of his surroundings, but Bell must share some of the blame as well.

It isn’t the biggest cause of his failures with the Jets, and it’s likely Bell finds much more success elsewhere. But his own physical deficiencies were at least a small contributing factor to his ultimate demise with the Jets.

And there’s no denying that.

Next: 2. Bell's supporting cast was awful

NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell
NY Jets, Le'Veon Bell /

NY Jets, Le’Veon Bell

2. Le’Veon Bell’s supporting cast with the NY Jets was terrible

After some brief introspection, we can get into the biggest causes of Bell’s issues with the Jets. And in this case, we’ll specifically focus on his supporting cast.

There are always conversations to be had about a quarterback’s supporting cast and how he needs a proper one to succeed. But that narrative is arguably even more important for running backs.

Bell saw that firsthand during his time with the Jets — one that was marred by injuries and abysmal offensive play.

The Jets’ offensive line was horrifically bad in 2019. If not for the Miami Dolphins — whose offensive line was statistically one of the worst in NFL history — the Jets would have been dead last in nearly every important category.

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And it was no secret how poor the unit was at run-blocking. Bell was never given a chance running behind likely the worst run-blocking offensive line in football.

To make matters worse, the Jets’ receiving corps did nothing to strike fear into the minds of opponents during Bell’s stint with the Jets. Bell was a man alone in the Jets’ skill-position group — and defenses knew this.

Sure, Bell’s own shortcomings contributed to his lack of success. But even Emmitt Smith would have struggled in Bell’s situation.

It’s impossible not to blame Bell’s supporting cast for many of his failures with the Jets.

Next: 1. Adam Gase failed him

NY Jets, Le’Veon Bell (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Le’Veon Bell (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

1. NY Jets’ head coach Adam Gase failed Le’Veon Bell

We all know the biggest reason for Bell’s problems in New York — and it’s the reason that his Jets’ tenure was doomed from the start.

Jets’ head coach Adam Gase.

Gase made it clear from the very start that Bell was never going to be the centerpiece of the Jets’ offense. Instead, Bell was seen as nothing more than your run-of-the-mill running back who would split snaps with some of his backups quite frequently.

In his lone game in 2020, 37-year-old Frank Gore received four fewer carries than Bell. Undrafted wide receiver Jeff Smith was targeted 11 times as compared to Bell’s one target.

Gase never wanted Bell. And he demonstrated that with his misusage of one of the talented skill position players in the league.

From his allergy to splitting Bell out wide despite the Jets’ wide receiver woes to his tendency to run Bell up the middle against a stacked box, it was very apparent that Gase had no interest in using Bell in the way that the Steelers did.

No longer was this All-Pro Le’Veon Bell. This was the Adam Gase show — Bell was just a pawn in Gase’s system.

Next. New York Jets: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time

Ultimately, Gase is the biggest reason that Bell isn’t on the Jets’ roster today. And for that reason, no one is more to blame for Bell’s failures than his now-former head coach.

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