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How the Jets can avoid another Le’Veon Bell…

4 min read
How the Jets can avoid another Le'Veon Bell...


The Jets’ offseason to-do list is a long one. They must decide who to add in free agency, who to target in the draft and who to keep among their own free agents.

But near the top of the list has to be figuring out how to better use their big-name acquisition from a year ago — running back Le’Veon Bell.

No one can look at Bell’s first year with the Jets and say it was a success. The team gave him a four-year, $52.5 million contract last March and he did not have one game with 100 yards rushing this season.

All of it added up to a big dud in a Jets offense that was the worst in the NFL.

Some have suggested the Jets will try to trade Bell this offseason, but that seems unrealistic for several reasons. The top reason is the $13 million guaranteed he has coming to him in 2020. Bell did not have a robust market as a free agent last year. It is hard to imagine him drawing major interest from teams coming off a down year with that contract.

If Bell is back in 2020, here are four things that could improve his production:

Get Him Some Linemen

You don’t have to be a football genius to figure out the Jets need to improve the offensive line this offseason. Their line was terrible in 2019, partly because of a rash of injuries and partly because of the talent level.

General manager Joe Douglas has said the Jets will rebuild in the trenches. He needs to find 3-4 new starters to open up holes for Bell, who was hit in the backfield way too often this season.

Bell’s patient running style did not work because he was waiting for holes to develop that never did, and then he would get drilled at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Le'Veon Bell
Le’Veon BellRobert Sabo

Scheme Up

Head coach Adam Gase took a lot of criticism for Bell’s usage.

It was not a secret Gase was not in favor of signing Bell because of the high price tag. However, it is hard to say Gase did not use him because of that. Bell’s 311 touches were eighth most among running backs. The seven backs ahead of him averaged 75 yards rushing per game or more. Bell’s average was 52.6. So, the numbers indicate, if anything, Gase may have stuck with Bell too much.

Where you can criticize Gase is regarding how he used Bell. Gase, running backs coach Jim Bob Cooter and offensive line coach Frank Pollack need to examine how Bell was used this year and figure out what can be improved. Did they rely too much on zone blocking? Would Bell be better off with a fullback in front of him more often?

The answers are not obvious from the outside, but it is something the coaching staff must figure out. Gase said he and Bell spoke about taking a closer look at what he did with the Steelers and trying to incorporate that next year. That is a start.

Get More Talent

Bell thrived in a Steelers offense that always had good wide receivers, most notably Antonio Brown. The Jets did not have that kind of threat this year and defenses zeroed in on Bell.

Douglas needs to find some receiving talent that can draw attention away from Bell and prevent teams from loading eight men in the box to stop him.

Show up in spring

This one is on Bell. He needs to be at the voluntary portion of the spring program this year. He stayed in Florida last spring, which was his right. Bell, however, needs to develop chemistry with quarterback Sam Darnold and extra sessions in the spring will do that. Bell and Ben Roethlisberger had a great feel for each other after years together. Darnold and Bell need all the time together they can get. It would also benefit Gase if Bell is in those practices to figure out ways to better use him during the time of year when he can experiment.

For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast:

https://nypost.com/2020/01/08/how-the-jets-can-avoid-another-leveon-bell-disaster/

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