Buffalo Bills: Three reasons why they didn’t need Le’Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell and the Buffalo Bills weren’t a match made to be, but that’s not a cause for concern for the AFC East leaders.

Buffalo Bell simply was not to be.

Despite reportedly keeping the Buffalo Bills on his shortlist, Le’Veon Bell opted to sign with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week. The three-time Pro Bowl running back spent less than 48 hours in free agency after his release from the New York Jets on Tuesday night, during the Bills’ 42-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Bell will not be eligible to play in the Chiefs’ Monday late afternoon meeting with the Bills (5 p.m. ET, ESPN), but is expected to join an already powerful offense headlined by Patrick Mahomes soon enough.

It may be a tough break for the Bills (4-1) to miss out on Bell, but ESM has three reasons why it’s not the end of Buffalo’s football world…

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell
 Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t Get Caught Up in the Bell Drama

During his brief availability, Bell had reportedly narrowed his list down to three suitors: Buffalo, Kansas City, and the Miami Dolphins. Bell surely had football reasons for his whittling, but it’s probably no coincidence that each of those choices each had meetings with the Jets on their schedule (Bell wouldn’t have been ready for the Jets’ Sunday visit to South Beach, but the teams are scheduled to reunite in New Jersey on November 29).

That’s the type of “baggage” that the Bills simply didn’t need.

In the grand scheme of things, it probably wasn’t a dealbreaker, but a personal revenge story nonetheless removes focus from the ultimate goal of a win. The Bills’ rise to power has been done with relatively little drama and an emphasis on team performances. It’d be great, at least from a Buffalo standpoint, to see Bell go to a division rival and torch the Jets for 150 yards and two scores at MetLife Stadium. But that’s the type of thing the Bills don’t need to concern themselves with. This is a story about the Buffalo Bills…not the Buffalo Bells.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There’s More Help Available

If the Bills really want to improve a rushing game that’s struggled to find traction in the early going (currently 28th in the NFL at 93.8 yards per game as top option Devin Singletary has struggled to regain his rookie season form), there are other names available, even on their own roster, that can help things out. The injured Zack Moss struggled in the early going (48 yards on 17 carries) but T.J. Yeldon made the most out of an extended opportunity in the loss to Tennessee on Tuesday (74 total yards and a receiving touchdown). If the Bills do opt to seek help elsewhere, serviceable options linger in the form of Spencer Ware and Bilal Powell.

Adjusting the run game, for better or worse, might be moot, however, because…

Rushing Isn’t the Problem on This Team

For the first time in this era of contention, the Bills are facing some true adversity. They might’ve faced some scrutiny after the narrow loss in Cleveland last November, but they went to four of their next five games to wrap up a playoff berth. Questions now surround Buffalo after suffering a one-sided loss to the Titans, with doubters questioning who they’ve beaten and if they’re really ready to dethrone the Patriots in the AFC East.

Adding Bell to the run game wasn’t going to answer that question either way.

Even if the top option Singletary has struggled in the early going (down to 3.9 yards a carry after averaging 5.1 last season), Buffalo has managed to procure a 4-1 record thus far. If anything, Josh Allen’s ability to partially sustain the ground game in the early going (a 3.5 average but 101 yards, 3 touchdowns) should only add to his MVP case. The passing game, bolstered by the addition of Stefon Diggs, has them situated as one of five NFL teams averaging 400 yards a game. If any outside help should be contacted…and the Bills have only about $4 million in cap space (which more than likely rules them out on a trade deadline candidate like David Johnson)…it should go toward the defense, namely the efforts in stopping the pass. The Bills let up just over 263 yards through the air a game (24th in the NFL), and matchups with the pass-happy Chiefs, Patriots, Seahawks, and Cardinals loom large before their Week 11 bye.

Problems on offense can be adjusted. Missing out on Bell stings now, but that wasn’t going to be the make-or-break move when it comes to a potential Buffalo Super Bowl run. Using whatever cap space they have would be much better spent on bolstering the defense.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: RB Le’Veon Bell signed by future opponent Kansas City

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

It didn’t take long for former New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell to find a new home, as the defending champs offered a one-year deal.

Le’Veon Bell’s name was not long for free agency. Less than 48 hours after the New York Jets granted his release, the running back has agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Though Bell will not be available for Kansas City’s Monday late afternoon tilt against Buffalo on Monday (5 p.m. ET, ESPN), Kansas City is set to take on the Jets on November 1 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Bell commemorated his move by sharing his image photos shopped in Chiefs gear.

Kansas City (4-1) has enjoyed the services of first-round rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back this season (10th in the NFL with 344 yards rushing), but have appeared to add themselves a very solid depth option in Bell. The rusher earned a pair of first-team All-Pro nominations and three Pro Bowl invites during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2013-17) and ran for 5,336 yards in a black and yellow uniform. He inked a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets after sitting out the entire 2018 campaign due to a contract dispute.

Through a series of alleged misuse and injuries, Bell was never able to regain his elite form with the Jets. He ran for only 789 yards and three scores last season, a full-season career-low. Bell partook in two games this season, partially sidelined by a hamstring injury that led to a stint on the temporary injured reserve. His final Jets showing came in a Week 5 return, when he ran for 60 yards on only 13 carries in a 30-10 defeat to Arizona.

Though the return on Edwards-Helaire has been strong in the early going, the Chiefs have struggled to fill the void left behind by Super Bowl hero Damien Williams, who opted out of the 2020 season. Current reserves Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson have united for 67 yards on 17 carries.

As for the Jets, Bell’s release carries $19 million in a dead money cap hit over the next two seasons, including $15 million this year.

The Jets (0-5) will partake in their first Bell-free game on Sunday late afternoon against the Miami Dolphins (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Le’Veon Bell: The wrong man to open the purge of the New York Jets

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

Necessary changes are coming to the New York Jets. Bidding Le’Veon Bell farewell, while merciful, wasn’t the right way to start them.

In the 2001 children’s picture Monsters Inc., a monster armed with the voice of Brooklyn native Steve Buscemi tells a one-eyed green creature voiced by The Bronx-raised Billy Crystal to be wary of “the winds of change“.

Another green monstrosity felt them blow on Tuesday night.

As professional football fans enjoyed a rare excursion on the second day of the week, the Jets opted to end Le’Veon Bell’s New York journey after 17 games, 863 rushing yards, $27 million in guaranteed money, and countless rumored feuds with head coach Adam Gase. Bell joined the Jets on a four-year deal during the 2019 offseason.

The Jets’ perpetual rebuild has somehow fallen into a deep abyss, one that has them at 0-5 (the losses coming by an average margin of over two touchdowns) and on a collision course with NFL infamy. Combine that with a plethora of free agents on the horizon and the mere thought of keeping the status quo would be lunacy. But for Bell’s status as the modern Jets’ first sacrifice to the football gods is a slap in the face to successful gridiron reboots and rebuilds everywhere.

Granted, Bell’s four-year, $52.5 million contract will likely go down in the same sentence as the deals bestowed to expensive, unproductive endeavors like Trumaine Johnson and Neil O’Donnell. Should Bell return to the elite form displayed in Pittsburgh, his image in green can probably be stored in the same folder as photos of Randy Moss in the Oakland Raiders’ colors.

But what the Jets’ latest transaction shows is a dedication to a regime that’s not working.

For as much as Bell floundered in New York, his 17 games in green don’t take away his glory days between 2013 and 2017 in Pittsburgh, ones that saw him finish third in the NFL in rushing yards in that span. But Bell is a rare New York representative that knows about success at the highest level in football. That’s also why Frank Gore, who is set to take over the top rushing duties in the Jets’ backfield, is still valuable at 37 years old. But the Jets now have the audacity to turn down the services of a top player still lingering in his prime while unproven names continue to steer the franchise ship.

Irony was perhaps best defined on Tuesday night by the fact that Gase, careening toward Rich Kotite status, remains employed by the same Jets team that granted Bell his walking papers. Further ironic hijinks also came from a rare sanctioned NFL game on Tuesday as well. As Bell was let go, a former Gase pupil helped move his team to 4-0 by guiding them to four touchdowns. That player, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, was subjected to countless “make-or-break” seasons under Gase’s watch in Miami. He has since established himself as the franchise quarterback for a Titans squad living up to the hype of their AFC title game appearance last season (when they’re not dealing with the ongoing health crisis, that is).

 (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The release of Bell thus sets a troubling precedent: the Jets appear all too willing to commit to a regime that’s only trending downward.

Tannehill isn’t even the only former practitioner of a Gase offense to find success elsewhere. Robby Anderson, for example, only spent a year under him but is on pace for career-best numbers in Carolina. Kenyan Drake has emerged as a security blanket for Kyler Murray in Arizona. If the Jets aren’t careful, more of their fleeting silver linings could venture out for greener pastures (oh, you know what we mean).

Under Gase, the Jets have lost some of their best, most recognizable players. Guys on a team desperate silver linings perhaps look at the Bell news and can’t help but think that they’re next. For example, if the Jets are willing to part ways with a proven, expensive talent like Bell, and allow Gase’s tenure to continue, who’s to say Sam Darnold, whose NFL journey is rife with uncertainty, isn’t next?

It’s not even guys on the current roster that might be most concerning. The Jets are blessed with strong cap space in time for the 2021 offseason. But what big-name free agent in their right mind is going to look at Bell’s tumultuous time in New York and declare “yeah…I want in on that”? It’s the type of move that’s going to have a ripple effect across several years…only this time, the waves could well sink the Jets further into the abyss.

The arrival of Gase and his staff wasn’t going to lead to wins immediately. Even with Tom Brady’s highly-publicized departure from the AFC East and expanded wild card capital, asking the Jets to reach the 2020 playoffs was going to be a tall task. But the 2020 season, one that gets no easier with a rescheduled visit to Miami on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS), has instead become one long vote of confidence to a staff that’s in over their heads and dragging the players down with them.

General manager Joe Douglas has a bit of a longer leash in this process. After all, it wasn’t he who added Bell, that honor instead going to Mike Maccagnan, one the latters final decisions before a most unusual firing after the draft. But Gase and company have to be on thin ice. His offensive ranking are at or near the NFL’s nadir. Promising prospects have regressed while others have been forced to wallow in obscurity. For example, the Jets appeared to have high hopes for fourth-round La’Mical Perine, and an opportunity appeared to open when Bell went down with an injury in Week 1. Carries instead when to the 37-year-old Gore, whose status beyond 2020 was always in question after inking a one-year deal this offseason.

New York Jets, Adam Gase

With the exception of the Jets improbable 6-2 finish to cap off the 2019 season, mostly earned against teams that were either resting players or were somehow more lost than they were, Gase and his staff have instill little hope in building anything successful, other than their case for the top overall draft pick next spring. Fans immediately came to adore the brash Gregg Williams in the defensive coordinator spot, but his unit has been equally guilty, as his unit ranks 25th in total defense this season.

Yet, it feels like the entire Gase era has been one long extension of a vote of confidence. It happened at his introduction, it happened when the Jets started off 1-7 last season, it continues to happen as 2020 continues to present more horrifying surprises.

The playoffs are obviously long removed from any form of New York football conversation. But the last 11-12 weeks of the season may mean everything to the Jets’ on-field representatives. Time will only tell how long the Gase experiment is allowed to continue, but some of these players could be playing for their football livelihoods, whether it’s with the Jets or elsewhere. If anything, it provides meaning to otherwise meaningless contests, starting with the adjusted matchup against the Dolphins on Sunday.

After all, if Le’Veon Bell isn’t safe in this system…how can they be?

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Releasing Le’Veon Bell depicts everything wrong with the Jets’ Organization

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

When the Jets inked Le’Veon Bell to join the team, the consensus was that Gang Green may have just rejuvenated their offense. The team handed a big contract to a former All-Pro running back and expected him to contribute immediately. Now when you add that caliber of a talent to your team, you expect a certain level of production no matter what side of the ball.

Bell had 245 carries for 789 yards and 3 TDs. He also added 461 yards and a score on 66 receptions. Bell put up numbers that look impressive on paper and for other backs, but when looked at in the grand scheme of things. It was an abnormally abysmal year for him.

Looking at his numbers from Pittsburgh in contrast to his little over a season in the green and white, the drop off was eye-opening. With Pittsburgh, Bell had an average of 129.0 scrimmage yards per game in contrast to his 80.2 in New York. The other startling statistic was his 3.2 yards per attempt that stood as the lowest mark of his career. So, why did Bell have such a massive drop off in quality of play?

While the obvious culprit seemed to be Adam Gase.

You can make the case that the team failed to provide quality blockers for Gase, but Bell’s utilization was the biggest issue. Gase was adamant about this in his preseason pressers as he stated that one of his primary focuses of the offseason was on using Bell better. Bell received a high volume of reps, but they were not meaningful ones. With just 19 attempts this season for 74 yards, Bell had bumped his production up to 3.9 yards per attempt, but he had 3 receptions for 39 yards out of the backfield. Now, this was only in two games since he missed time with a shoulder injury, but one thing was different this year than last. Gase DID use Bell slightly more efficiently than last season, but the primary reason he was able to get those reps was because of how Gase used his 37-year-old back, Frank Gore.

It was obvious to even the casual observer that Gase and Bell had a tumultuous relationship, but it was only furthered based on Gore’s usage. Gore was used as the bell cow back in the offense while Bell was out and even given reps that would typically go to Bell when he returned. Here is the cold hard truth, Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell were never on the same page. The “innovative mind” failed to realize the talent he had in his hands and instead failed to adapt his playbook to his best players. Gase instead remained stubborn and set in his ways by continuing to overuse basic halfback dives and receiver screens. See, the poor utilization of Bell by Gase that led to the rift is the utter depiction of the incompetence that has plagued this organization.

Le’Veon Bell now joins the list of so many other talents who were wasted whilst with an “offensive genius.” Some of those players include Jarvis Landry, Robby Anderson, Kenyan Drake, Ryan Tannehill, and DeVante Parker. All have had rejuvenated careers WITHOUT Adam Gase. If the blind eye could see that is the issue, why can’t the ownership? The fact is the Jets thrive off of their own self-destruction and incompetence beyond just the gridiron. Bell moving on and having success would just be the latest feather in the cap of the embarrassment: the Adam Gase era and the organization as a whole.

BREAKING NEWS: New York Jets release RB Le’Veon Bell

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

The New York Jets released the former star running back less than two years into a four-year, $52.5 million contract.

The New York Jets have released running back Le’Veon Bell, the team confirmed on Tuesday night. Bell’s Jets career ends less than two years into a four-year contract ink during the 2019 offseason.

“After having conversations with Le’Veon and his agent and exploring potential trade options over the past couple of day, we have made the decision to release Le’Veon,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said in a statement. “The Jets organization appreciates Le’Veon’s efforts during his time here and we know he worked hard to make significant contributions to this team. We believe this decision is in the best interests of both parties and wish him future success.”

Bell’s Jets career ends after just 17 games that saw him tally 863 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. He joined the Jets on a deal worth $52.5 million after an illustrious five-year career in Pittsburgh, one that saw him put up 5,336 yards over five seasons. Bell sat out the entire 2018 season after long-term contract talks between him and the Steelers broke down.

Bell’s relationship with head coach Adam Gase was a point of contention during his brief time in New York. Gase’s usage of the running back was constantly called into question, as Bell’s 245 carries were his lowest tally since his rookie season. His 789 yards and three scores were also full-season lows for the former Michigan State Spartan.

Upon Bell’s release, Frank Gore and rookie La’Mical Perine are the active returnees on the Jets’ roster. The team has also promoted free agent signee Ty Johnson to their active 53-man unit. Johnson, a former Detroit Lions’ draft pick, was signed on October 2.

The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon against the Miami Dolphins (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: LeVeon Bell to return in week 5

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

The New York Jets have been without their former All-Star running back since week one of the season. In the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Bills, Bell seemed to have an awkward fall in the midst of running a route.

It ultimately ended up being  a hamstring injury that sent him to the IR. Now, before the Jets take on the Arizona Cardinals, Bell will be joining them.

What’s This Mean?

This is great news for the Jets organization for multiple reasons. The first that tomorrow marks the first start for Joe Flacco while Darnold sits with a shoulder injury, so adding a playmaker like Bell back into the fold could ease some of the pressure. Especially with a veteran quarterback who is coming off an injury himself, having Bell can open up things more for him.

The next reason this is so important, is because of the impact Bell has when healthy. Without Bell for the past few games, the Jets have accumulated only 263 yards on the ground from running backs.

Sam Darnold is currently the team’s leading rusher with 117 yards, while Frank Gore sits at 74 yards on 55 carries. It’s safe to say the Jets need a boost out of the backfield and Bell could provide that.

The last reason this is crucial is because of a potential trade. With Bell likely out the door after this season, the team could use the next two or so games as a showcase for what Bell can do. If he’s the key cog in the offense for the next couple of games, don’t be surprised because that may be an order from management. A trade of Bell could shed around eight million dollars of cap space for the organization and potentially nab a mid rounder. It may not be the route the team goes, but it’s certainly a possibility.

One thing is for sure though, the Jets need some kind of fire on offense right now. That’s a fire that Bell can bring. Who knows, his return may just make this offense competitive.

New York Jets make roster moves heading into Week 2

Kalen Ballage

The New York Jets placed three on short-term injured reserve and added another rusher as they prepare for a visit from the 49ers.

The New York Jets announced the addition of running back Kalen Ballage on Tuesday afternoon. His arrival corresponds with the Jets placing three players on injured reserve, headlined by fellow rusher Le’Veon Bell.

Bell’s second season in New York got off to a tough start, as he ran for 14 yards on six carries in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. He was removed from the game in the second half with a hamstring injury sustained in the first. Head coach Adam Gase expressed his regret over keeping Bell in the game during his postgame statements.

“I’m mad at myself that I let him back in there in the second half,” Gase said in video provided by the Jets. “I was watching him, and I thought it was going to be a touchdown. He got grabbed and the way he planted and torqued, it looked really bad. I saw him grab his hamstring and he wouldn’t come out. When we came in at halftime, I let him go back in there. I was worried about it. Eventually, I was like, ‘I can’t put you in there. We can’t take a chance of getting more hurt than you already are.’”

Joining Bell on injured reserve will be receiver Denzel Mims and linebacker Blake Cashman. The rookie Mims, the Jets’ second-round pick in April’s draft, dealt with hamstring issues throughout training camp and did not play in Sunday’s opener. Cashman, a second-year defender, had one tackle before sustaining a groin injury. As a rookie last season, he earned praise for filling in for injured starter C.J. Mosley before he himself was lost for the season in November with a torn labrum and fractured shoulder.

Joining the team in place of Bell is Ballage, a former Miami Dolphin who was previously dealt to the Jets in a training camp trade that was later voided when he failed a physical. Ballage was released by the Dolphins shortly after the voided transaction. The rusher now reunites with former coach Gase, who oversaw Ballage’s drafting in the fourth-round (131st overall) of the 2018 draft. Ballage, best known for scoring a Football Bowl Subdivision record eight touchdowns in a single game at Arizona State, tallied 545 total yards of offense over two seasons with the Dolphins.

The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Adam Gase expresses regret, remorse after Week 1 disaster

New York Jets, Adam Gase

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase’s first postgame statements of 2020 were understandably somber after Sunday’s shellacking in Buffalo.

Sunday’s opening game was a case of deja vu for the New York Jets and head coach Adam Gase. Not only did they fall to the Buffalo Bills on opening weekend for the second straight season, but the final margin 27-17 was nowhere near indicative of how one-sided the game truly was. Parallels could perhaps be drawn to the Jets’ final ledger of 7-9 earned last season. The Jets’ best victory tally since the star-crossed 10 wins in 2015 somewhat masked a brutal opening stretch to the season, one only exacerbated by injuries.

Either way, the trend of losing continued for New York…at least by literal name…and the head coach was forced to atone for it.

“It was about as bad of a start offensively as we could have had,” Gase said in his opening statements, per transcripts provided by the Jets. “We didn’t do anything when the defense did a good job getting a turnover. Complimentary football was non-existent throughout most of the game. We just really did not play well.

“The disappointing aspect is just watching the guys work all week and the excitement level coming into this game. We have a lot to work on and a lot of things to get fixed.”

To Gase’s point, Buffalo didn’t seem pleased with what was otherwise a dominant performance. Josh Allen became the first Bills quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards since December 2016 but two lost fumbles denied Buffalo a chance to truly break the game open.

The Jets, however, failed to truly capitalize on either opportunity. Allen’s latter fumble, forced by Bless Austin, le to their first points via a Sam Ficken field goal, but a chance to pull early momentum yielded only a three-and-out. When Allen held onto the ball, the Bills built a 21-0 lead that was never truly in doubt.

“We had to get into that rhythm,” receiver Jamison Crowder said. “I feel like guys were trying to press to hard and we just couldn’t get into that rhythm. We have to change that going forward. We have to come out early and bring the energy and get some plays going, stay ahead of the sticks and get first downs.”

The lack of preseason games certainly didn’t play in the Jets’ favor. Even if each of the 32 teams were not granted the benefit of four consequence-free opportunities to develop chemistry and the rhythm that Crowder desired, the Jets may have been one of the teams most affected by the decision to outright cancel exhibitions. The starting offensive line, for example, was completely new. Every receiver from third-year quarterback Sam Darnold’s rookie season has likewise departed. A rare leftover, Chris Herndon, missed all but 18 snaps last season due to suspension and injury.

Gase wasn’t fully buying into the theory, insisting that Buffalo didn’t throw anything unexpected at them. It was the on the Jets for not performing and not taking advantage of opportunities.

“When we had opportunities to make plays, we didn’t make them,” Gase said. “I thought there were some things that, I felt like the line gave us enough time. We were not good in the passing game today, especially early.”

The task ahead for the influx of newcomers playing their first game under a new system was made all the more challenging by changes Gase has to make. Free agency arrival Pierre Desir was removed for Nate Hairston, while a hamstring injury to Le’Veon Bell forced him to press Frank Gore and Josh Adams (scorer of the Jets’ final touchdown) into further action.

Gase would express remorse keeping Bell in the game as long as he did. His status for next week’s game against San Francisco, a Sunday home opener (1 p.m. ET, Fox) is yet to be determined.

“I’m mad at myself that I let him to back in there in the second half,” he said. “I saw him grab his hamstring and he wouldn’t come out. When we came in at halftime, I let him go back in there. I was worried about it. Eventually, I was like, ‘I can’t put you in there. We can’t take a chance of getting more hurt than you already are.’”

In the midst of his somber statements, Gase did address the fledgling positives that emerged from defeat. He was inspired by Crowder’s 69-yard hookup with Darnold, one that narrowed the Jets’ deficit to 21-10 in the third quarter. The drive that led to Ficken’s field goal was also inspiring to Gase, a 10-play, 70-yard quest that took up 87 seconds of game time. Offensive line play was also to Gase’s liking. Newcomers Mekhi Becton and George Fant each managed to have a decent blocking day in their green debuts, with Darnold only getting sacked three times. Buffalo defenders got to him four times in last year’s opener.

But if the Jets are going to steal a couple of wins before this season of uncertainty lets out, Gase knows that more complete efforts are required. The drive starts upon the Jets’ return home, one whose end features a battle with the defending NFC champions.

The discussion in (the locker room) was of making every possession count. That was a different feel for me with that group. These guys have a plan themselves going out there before we even said anything. It was good to see how all of those guys were working together. There is so much for us to clean up. It was a rough game. We didn’t play well enough. We have to get a lot of things fixed in a short period of time.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets Position Group Grades: Running backs

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each position group within the New York Jets‘ organization and grade each group. Today’s group is the running backs. Headlined by a thinner and motivated Le’Veon Bell, the ageless wonder that is Frank Gore, and the dynamic rookie in LaMical Perine. It’s a good group with a lot of potential, but how much can potential carry this group, let’s take a closer look.

RB 1: Le’Veon Bell

Without question, Lev Bell is the lead back for the 2020 campaign. Bell is determined to prove that last season’s poor performance was a fluke. He set a record for the lost YPC in franchise history, and I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with him. Bell is lighter than last year, has more quality linemen blocking for him and a coach taking accountability for his poor usage. Still, how much of that is fools gold. Bell is still struggling to keep frustrations quiet, and we know what happened last time a Jet did that. The offensive line could fail to gel and prove to hinder the offense early on. Most of all, Adam Gase may decide to take more of a committee approach and not give Bell the reps he truly deserves. I think Bell will be more improved this year, but I can’t say have I have the same confidence in Adam Gase to use him properly.

RB 2: Frank Gore

Fresh off another year of not looking like he’s slowing down. The 37-year-old running back is being counted on to play two roles this season. After jumping to #3 on the all-time rushing yard rankings, Frank Gore has continued to be an aggressive and productive back. He’ll be counted on to get meaningful reps early.

Gore is also being counted on as a leader and mentor to the younger backs in Perine and Bell. Gore is going to have his hands full trying to keep Bell quiet and still mentor Perine as a rusher. If anyone can do it, though, Gore can. Gore has been touted as one of the most impressive rushers in camp, and I’m genuinely excited to see his impact with the squad. I just hope Gase doesn’t overuse him in lieu of Bell.

RB 3: LaMical Perine

Perine suffered a low-grade ankle sprain that had potential to be A LOT worse. I and Jets fans everywhere feared the worse upon the report he was carted from practice. Now, Perine will hopefully be back quickly and able to contribute by Week 2 at the latest. Perine has the potential to be a change of pace back that really compliments the punch you in the mouth rushing style the other two backs have. Perine has flashed his impressive speed early and often in camp, and I’m excited to see him take the field as well. Perine needs to get some reps early to see if he is capable of being the long term back for this team. I’m weary of his durability and overall productivity, but ultimately I’m hoping for the best.

Grade: B

I really like this group. It’s one of my favorite position groups on this roster as a whole. I think the combination of potential with veteran presence is something that could really benefit the team as a whole. Plus, the value Bell brings as a pass-catcher adds another dimension to the offense. I have high hopes for this team. My biggest fear is Adam Gase is the reason I get let down. 

New York Jets: Le’Veon Bell and Adam Gase “actually like each other”

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

As Week 1 looms, New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell did his part to end rumors of tension between him and his head coach.

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell may represent the offense, but took on the role of a shutdown corner in defusing tension between he and head coach Adam Gase.

On Thursday, the rusher spoke for the first time since an intrasquad scrimmage bore friction between the two. Gase mentioned that he had pulled Bell from the proceedings due to a tight hamstring, but Bell took to social media afterward to proclaim his clean bill of health. Speaking in person after the late week practice, Bell considered the scrimmage matter behind him and publicly called for those covering the Jets to stop pitting he and Gase against each other.

“I don’t understand why everybody is trying to put me and Gase against each other,” Bell said Thursday, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “We’re not against each other. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to believe, but we actually like each other.”

Bell and Gase’s relationship has been under a microscope ever since the former Pittsburgh Steeler inked a four-year, $52.5 million contract last offseason. Rumors emerged last season that Gase lobbied against then-general manager Mike Maccagnan adding Bell after he sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute. Bell’s name appeared in several trade rumors at the league-deadline last season and Gase was accused by analysts of not using Bell properly in his offense. Bell had a full-season career-low 789 yards last season.

But Bell doubled down on his peace treaty with Gase, insisting that the pair have never had problems.

“Ever since I got here and he got here, there’s kind of been this little thing of me and him butting heads all the time, which I don’t know where it comes from,” Bell said in Cimini’s report. “We had a long conversation because basically people (blew last week) out of proportion because I did make the tweet.”

Bell has returned to training camp eager to rectify and atone for the mistakes of 2019 and has been a burst of light in the Jets’ proceedings. He’s ready to take on a larger role in the New York offense when the Jets open against Buffalo on September 13 (1 p.m. ET, CBS) and it appears Gase is ready to take Bell up on that challenge.

“I feel like we can find better ways to get him the ball to help him create more explosive plays,” Gase said in Cimini’s discourse. “We can get him in space better than we did last year.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags