New York Jets offseason acquisition Le’Veon Bell is not far off from a time where he was renowned as one of the best offensive players in football.
His versatile and dynamic skill set made him a 2-time All-Pro and a 3-time pro bowler. He set the league on fire from the start having seasons with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage like in 2014 or even in 2017 having another near 2,000-yard season with 11 scores.
Le’Veon provided the Steelers a patient runner but also a receiving threat. In his opinion, he is a number 1 RB and a number 2/3 WR. Thus, he felt he should be compensated as such or traded. Yeah, well the Steelers didn’t answer that request and after a year off from the game, now Bell joins the Jets and becomes one of the most anticipated Jets players maybe ever.
Bell has been given lofty expectations by the bulk of the sports media world but what are reasonable expectations for a guy who took a year off from the game in his prime?
What should the New York Jets expect from the versatile running back?
Well first things first, Bell was receiving anywhere from 113-321 carries in a season and anywhere from 26-106 carries in a season. Bell saw the ball as much as 427 times as most recently as 2017. Under Mike Tomlin, Bell saw a TON of snaps with the ball in his hands.
Adam Gase is not typically like that and in fact, Kenyan Drake disappointed mightily in his offense last season and only saw 194 times with the ball whether it was catching it out of the backfield or running it. Jay Ajayi is closer to the talent level of Bell and he even only received 295 targets or carries in his only season as the lead back.
The fact is, Gase is going to feed Bell but not as much as Tomlin, especially if you factor in the fear of rust from a year off. That leads me to believe that Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell will play big parts as rotational backs this season. Both men are strong backups for Bell and can help limit wear and tear and take some reps to ease Bell back in.
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So, although it would be awesome to see Bell getting the kind of volume he saw in Pittsburgh, that kind of volume isn’t typical of an Adam Gase run offense. Bell will see the field and no doubt be a difference-maker but if there is rust he can still take the pressure off Sam Darnold (a big reason the Jets wanted him) and be the lead back in an explosive offense.
Bell will have a lot of pressure this season coming off a year away from the game but there is no doubt if Bell is even a fragment of what he was in 2017 he will make a significant difference on Gang Green.