Offense Will Run Through Le’Veon Bell
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Le’Veon Bell is the complete package. He had a slow start to the year after missing the first three games with a foot injury, and coming back to an offensive line that was still reeling from losing its leader in Maurkice Pouncey. Near the end of the season the line was gelling and Bell found his groove.
Bell has power, quickness, and smarts. He has soft hands and can protect the passer. His route running and coverage recognition are getting better.
Watching him play last year I was surprised that everyone kept talking about him being a 244 lb back. Sure enough Bell played at 230 lbs, way down from his college weight. It showed. Bell was fluid and quick, but still retained the decisive power he showed as a Spartan.
Gio Bernard and Eddie Lacy got a lot of praise last year, and deservedly so. Both of those backs added a new dimension to their respective teams and enjoyed success in their rookie years. Bell is just a more complete back.
I really can’t think of a situation in which I would want the offense to take Bell off of the field. When Fast Willie was running and it was short yardage, you brought in Jerome Bettis or Najeh Davenport. When Rashard Mendenhall was playing you brought in Isaac Redman. If it was late in the game and you were going no huddle you brought in Mewelde Moore.
You don’t need to do that with Bell. He is equipped to handle every football situation. You want him to catch?
You want power?
He has a nose for the end zone.
There is no doubt that the offseason additions of LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer were made for a reason. The two players will be able to compliment Bell in different ways and add new dimensions to the offense. The fact that Archer has been assigned the jersey number 13 indicates that he will be used out wide as much as in the backfield.
Spelling Bell or even sharing the backfield with him certain packages seems to be the best way to use the new running back additions. Bell should be a matchup problem, because of his versatility; defenders should not be able to key on him.
Should he stay healthy and continue to improve, Bell could turn into a weapon like Matt Forte or even LaDanian Tomlinson, backs that flourished despite depth behind them in Michael Bush, Michael Turner, and Darren Sproles. This was due to their versatility compared to specialized players on the roster.
The depth of Blount and Archer would best be used to add new dimensions to the offense without diminishing Bell’s opportunities. Given a 16 game season behind a healthy offensive line, Bell should have no trouble gaining 1,500 yards from scrimmage and double digit touchdowns. It’s not just that Bell is versatile, everything aspect of Bell’s game is above the line. As he develops he could become an offensive weapon without weaknesses.