TOJ New York Jets Film Breakdown – Le’Veon Bell’s 2017 Season

Joe Blewett with a film breakdown of Le’Veon Bell’s 2017 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Prior to the Le’Veon Bell film review I really wanted the Jets to sign Bell. After doing the review I REALLY, REALLY want the Jets to sign Bell. People are going to point to Bell’s injuries and the miles that he put on his tires (1,229 rushes, 312 receptions).

Injuries are typically going to be a concern with most running backs in the league. It’s something that fans have to realize. In fact, I doubt that many RB’s in the league have a clean bill of health five years and over 1,500 touches on their bodies. Something that has been thrown out there and has rung true throughout the last few years is that the Jets have a great medical staff. Examples range from guys like Laron Landry, Morris Claiborne, Kelvin Beachum, Henry Anderson etc. All guys who started their Jet careers with injury concerns but that concern rarely appeared while on the Jets. A full year off from football should also help Bell’s body recover from nagging injuries exponentially.

Bell won’t be getting a Kirk Cousins type contract in terms of being fully guaranteed, He will most likely receive a deal that is 2-3 years guaranteed (which is realistically the actual contract). Taking him to twenty eight or nine years old in which he will be nearing the end of his prime and on the inevitable down slide of his career. At that time the Jets will be able to get out of the contract if they anticipate that downslide is coming and he isn’t worth the price.

Another concern that is impossible to ignore is the fact that Bell has been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Just another failed drug test could put him out for an extended period of time but I couldn’t possibly imagine the Jets not putting a clause in the contract voiding guaranteed money if this were to happen. Again it’s a risk worth taking for a player of Bell’s caliber, if the contract is structured correctly.

Fans like to point to Bell’s contract situation and say that he is a locker room cancer, clearly he was the only problem in the Steelers dysfunctional locker room (that’s a joke people). In no way do I like the way Bell handled his situation with the Steelers but i’m also not putting all of the blame on Bell. Just imagine being a twenty-six year old running back who KNOWS that he likely only has one more big contract.

I know some people are rolling their eyes saying “yes I can’t imagine how tough it is being twenty six years old, having already made fourteen million with another fourteen million on the way”. But you have to look at the situation from his eyes and what he is looking at with potential earnings.

Bell knew that the Steelers were going to run him into the ground in 2018. In turn greatly lowering his value over a long term contract with whatever team he was going to sign with in 2019 (Jets please).

In terms of the actual locker room I have one thing to say to keep it short. Winning fixes EVERYTHING. The Steelers won a ton of games with Bell, even if he was an issue in the locker room. It’s foolish to think the Jets have  perfect locker room right now, because they don’t. The reason why?

THEY AREN’T WINNING, it’s uncomfortable to know that the Jets bonafide superstar in Jamal Adams is already frustrated in his second year in the NFL. Getting Bell leads to more wins and like I said that fixes a lot.

Something else to consider with Bell is the FACT that by bringing him in it will undoubtedly bring in/attract other free agents. Think about how many free agents the Jets apparently just missed out on. Know why they missed out? Because there aren’t players on this roster that players recognize as big time players they can win along side of. Bell is a start to making the Jets a big time destination.

Hopefully leading to the Jets landing guys like Paradis, Flowers, Tate, etc (plug in preferred free agents) and resulting in more wins and playoff runs. Instead of “barely missing” and then landing guys who are average to placeholders like Crowell, Claiborne, Long, Carpenter, Kearse and more.

Another argument I hear is the “Just sign Ingram or Coleman with another free agent”. NEWS FLASH the Jets have enough money to sign Bell and many more free agents. It isn’t sign A or sign B and C. The Jets have enough money to sign A, B and C. That’s if and a big if, all of those free agents sign here or are even available in the first place.

Another interesting one, “just draft a running back”. Because you know, Le’Veon Bell level talent gets drafted ALL the time. Maccagnan has also shown a clear ability to draft very well after the first round that should give you faith he will be able to land a Hunt (minus assaults) or a Kamara level talent in the mid to late rounds of the draft. McGuire and Cannon are clear examples of that.

Bell is arguably the best running back in the NFL and still could be for the next two to three years. If you don’t think he is THE BEST and want to say its Gurley, Zeke, Barkley or whoever. It’s clear that Bell is in that conversation and it seems to be forgotten because he didn’t play last year.

As you will see below Bell can take any run for 40+ yards and a touchdown. He can take a checkdown for ten yards instead of two, for fifty yards instead of ten. He can run power, duo, sweeps, zone screens, iso’s, run on the goal line, he can do ANYTHING you want him to do.

The versatility that he would provide Gase with his offense is undeniable. Imagine gaining more than one yard on first down? Imagine Bell split out wide and running a quick smoke screen with a guy like Enunwa opening up the boundary for him. Imagine Darnold dumping off of a checkdown to Bell and him taking it twenty yards helping out Darnold extraordinarily. Imagine Gase using his pre snap motions helping Darnold isolating Bell vs linebackers (or even safeties) and allowing an easy completion (they really do exist it’s not a fairy tale).

Bell opens up the offense to a level that I can’t put into words. Even with things as simple as Bell bring a big time asset in pass blocking. Helping mitigate the offensive lines problems and keeping Darnold clean. Giving him more confidence and time to get the ball downfield.

The last time the Jets signed a top three to five talent at their position AND in their prime in free agency was OVER twenty years ago with Kevin Mawae and Curtis Martin in 1998. The way to build IS through the draft but ignoring top tier level talents in free agency with a mostly talentless team seems foolish to even type.

Surrounding Darnold with top tier talent HAS TO be the priority on the Jets brass mind, even if they do have to overpay a few millions dollars which they can clearly afford to do.

Not capitalizing on Darnold’s rookie deal (Hey Seahawks) would be a mistake that is unforgivable. A good amount of teams in the NFL (minus the Patriots dynasty) who are going deep into the playoffs are teams with young QB’s on cheap contracts. Look no farther than the Rams and Chiefs this past season.

I probably missed some things I wanted to discuss in this article but what the hell, let’s get into his strengths and weaknesses. 

Strengths

  • Burst
  • Sets up blockers
  • Vision
  • Strength
  • Lower body power
  • Patience
  • Willing and able to truck people over and/or drive
  • Fantastic pass protection
  • Jump cuts
  • Suddenness
  • Can cut on a dime
  • Agility
  • Nasty stiff arm
  • Stop/start quickness
  • Route Running
  • Good and reading blitzes and where defenders will come from
  • Absurd peripheral vision
  • Hurdles when defenders go low
  • Always falls forward and able to fight for extra yards
  • Football IQ
  • Reads gaps extraordinary
  • Can get skinny
  • Spacial awareness
  • Footwork
  • Knows how and when to drop weight
  • Will break d-linemans tackle
  • Hop step and stab moves
  • Great hands
  • Knows how to press line to set up blocks
  • Knows how and when to alter gate to allow faster cuts or more advantageous positions
  • Rarely goes down on arm tackle
  • Can makes people miss in a “phone booth”
  • Able to absorb hits
  • Balance
  • Contact balance
  • Lateral quickness
  • Always runs with shoulders over knees
  • Keeps feet clean in traffic
  • Legs always churning
  • Versatility
  • Having a crap load of strengths
  • Can make dynamic cuts
  • Can instantly stop momentum
  • Manipulates defenders with tracks
  • Size
  • Ankle flexibility
  • Overall flexibility

Weaknesses

  • Sometimes too patient missing available yards looking for bigger lanes
  • Tries to get too fancy in situations that don’t require it
  • Lacks elite speed
  • Had some fumble due to loosely carrying the ball in traffic
  • Saw instances of gate being to large/hoppy leading to a delayed cut
  • Lack of focus on catching ball/looking it in lead to some drops

12 personnel gun set, inside zone split. Bell reads the play side 4i tech at the mesh point then his eyes flash inside to the backside 1 tech and the inside triangle. Shows some good footwork with the two hops/stop steps COD then hits the hole. Breaks arm tackle without flinching.

Another area of Bells game that everybody knows is a strength of Bell and thats as a route runner out of the backfield (actually are some aspects he could improve this specific rep). Option route vs a DB, gives hesitation as he breaks through the LOS/hard jab outside to freeze DB.

Inside zone from gun. Bell shows some good explosion/acceleration as he plants and runs through the a-gap. Then sets up the safety coming down as his eyes are outside the entire time then explodes in. Notice the right hand and left foot as he is falling (stabilize and propel).

Gun set. Bell leaks out into the flat after checking and releasing. Bell sets up the LB big time in the open field. Eyes and track are going outside as he never even looks at the LB or inside. Drops his hips, stop step with the left foot and explodes upfield.

One of the few negatives with Bell at times is that he tries to get too much at times. Here presses the A gap as the RG works up to the play side LB but should have cut back upfield for an easy 5 or so yards. Instead it goes for no gain as he cuts outside.

Steelers run a crack toss out of a 10 personnel gun set. Really good management of speed by Bell on this play. Slows up allowing his pulling RT to get an angle on the DB and forces the play side LB to take a bag angle. Then burst outside to pick up 6-7 yards.

11 personnel gun set. Bell takes the handoff and peaks inside at the 2i tech and the play side LB (most likely). Bell then looks to the EMOL and presses inside to the b gap. Forcing both the MLB and OLB to react inside, then cuts outside. Also gets a truck on Weddle.

Man vs Jefferson. 4th step (right foot) is his drop/catch step (hips drop and foot pivots inside to allow hips to open inside). Breaks on 5th step with left foot as he still has eyes on the DB (freezing) gets right foot around for point step. Gets head and hips out of break quick.

Lead pin and pull.Some good footwork as he presses the line (short choppy steps allowing quick COD, hip drop) then cuts through the line. Breaks a tale of a NT, stiff arms the shit out of Mosley while not looking. Also does give Weddle the easy tackle. Serious power in Bell’s game.

22 personnel on the goal line with an extra tackle in the game. Steelers are running behind Bell up the middle but Bell quickly realizes its plugged up. Jump cut outside, presses the LOS, another jump cut and then penetration into the end zone. Patience on the goal line is rare.

The most overlooked aspects of Bell’s game is his pass blocking. Very good at reading stunts, overloads etc and picking up free blitzes. Not afraid to get his hands dirty and deliver a shot. Here the LT-RG slide left and Bell reads inside out and picks up the blitzing safety.

Good play call vs cover 2 on 1st down to pick up some yardage. Bell on the bottom in the slot runs into the flat as Brown clears out the curl/flat CB. Another overlooked aspect is Bell’s power. Good technique here as he lower he shoulder and uses he arm/forearm to absorb contact.

Bell checks and releases out of the backfield and Ben dumps it off to him. A CB comes downhill and breaks down to tackle Bell. Bell takes two subtle steps to show that he is going to lower his shoulder, The DB reacts accordingly (kind of) and Bell hurdles him.

Good and bad here on this 3rd and 1 duo run from 11 personnel. The bad= Its 3rd and 1 and Bell just needs a yard which is easily available. Good= The cuts, footwork, angles and ability to bounce it outside for the touchdown.

Started recording late but Bell leaks out into the flat as a check down option for Ben. Bell gives a hesitation/hop stop to the LB coming from inside to make the tackle, getting by him. Piss poor effort by #22 and good balance/tight rope by Bell, 35 yard TD.

Front side of the line down blocks as Bell bounces it outside. Gets low and rolls his power through his hips up thought Kirkpatrick. Good job getting two hands on the ball and absorbing contact through his forearms as he makes them the first point of contact. Leading to him trucking over the DB.

No need to discuss anything else but the power that Bell shows here. Literally drags a 240 pound LB with his full body weight and dragging but the knees for another 6-7 yards. Exhibiting some really strong legs and fight for extra yardage.

IZ split from gun. Bell doesnt like what he sees on the front side of the and shifts his eyes to the backside. Then sees the backside EMOL crashing down hard so Bell bounces. DB comes down, Bell never looks inside, drops hips and opens/drags back foot to allow cut/slow down.

21 personnel pin and pull action on the front side of the run. Bell always stays light on his feet allowing quick COD and cuts. LT and OC take the OLB leaving Bell 1v1 with the LB. Ability to “make people miss in a phone booth”. Drops hips/stab outside and head fake leads to an extra 3-4 yards.

Bell again gets hit as a check down. Clean footwork from Bell as he drags that back left foot and opens it in the direction he wants to cut which allows him to cut quicker. Also keep feet parallel allowing lateral movement. Leg strength shown with hard jab and cut off wide base.

Front side of the line down blocks and Bell cuts outside. #20 plays this poorly as he is way too hoppy and reactive. Bell knows the cut inside is available but never looks there which doesn’t tip off the DB. Drops the hips, drags the inside foot and burst upfield.

Steelers run counter OF from a 12 personnel gun set. Bell cuts inside of the pulling LG as the OLB has outside leverage. Bell then shows some really nice patience in the phone booth as he cuts upfield and finds a lane for more yardage.

Bell keys on the blitzing LB as he is blocking opposite. Not only does he pick up blitzing LBs but he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and deliver a blow to them.

Steelers run inside zone split. Bell reads the play side a/b gap as he comes to the mesh point but doesn’t see what he wants. Shows some nice lower body flexibility, then presses outside of the LT, holding the defenders outside and allowing blocks to form. Then burst for the TD.

Bell checks lb’s pre snap. Steelers run a sprint draw. Bell again shows patience as he presses the LOS even with a LB coming down. Bell’s hesitation/patience allows the TE to pick up a block on the LB (good block/IQ). Bell is always low allowing himself to make sharp/quick cuts.

Bell runs to the field side on a outside zone out of 12 personnel. Good management of speed as he is stretching the defense outside, picks up his speed as he gets outside. Shawn Williams attempts to make the tackle but Bell lowers his shoulder for 3 more yards. Bell likes contact.

“Why not just get Coleman or Ingram for a lesser price”, this is why. Taking a simple check down for 42 yards and making 5/6 guys miss in the process. Combination of power, speed, lateral mobility, field vision, contact balance, bend, awareness and more. Best of the best.

Types of runs that show some of the flaws (everybody has them) in Bell’s game. Lead outside zone of a 22 personnel I-formation. Bell’s track is outside for too long, stride length is also long, runs into his RT as he doesn’t just take the easy yards up the a-gap initially.

Another inside zone split from a 11 personnel gun set. As Bell takes the handoff with a good pace he sees that he play side 1 tech sheds to block of the OC. Bell consistently shows absurd leg strength as he drops his hips and jump cuts to avoid the tackle. Great vision as well.

Steelers run “counter of” out of a 12 personnel shingleback set. As Bell is following his blocks outside he cuts upfield but shows vision to see the inside pursuit + #49 in position to make a play, so he cuts back outside. Making defenders truck each other over.

Another counter of out of a 12 personnel singleback set. Nice vision here but wanted to show the acceleration and pacing that Bell displays. Bell is at a slow tempo as he looks for a hole but as soon as #56 collapses down on him.   Notice the acceleration that Bell displays.

The front side OT/OG on a deuce block to the Mike LB. The play side 3 tech penetrates the a gap before the backside OT can kick out the OLB. Bell doesn’t panic shows good footwork (left foot) and power in legs on two jump cuts setting up this run. Nice finish to the run as well.

Another ridiculous run. Bell shows a ton of patience in the backfield allowing the backside OT get to the play side, burst upfield and breaks an arm tackle. Love Bells eyes as he is hit by #49 his eyes are on the other defender, extreme leg power to cut like that.

22 personnel Steelers run a lead zone. As Bell cuts through the A-gap #49 hits Bell but Bell breaks it showing contact balance and power. #59 gets off the block from the OC, Bell never looks at him and shows ridiculous footwork with two hops on the right foot to lessen cut time.

Steelers run a sweep out 22 personnel twin TE I-formation. Good job by Bell to keep his feet clean as #56 dives low with his left hand to force #56 into the ground. As Bell is along the sideline #49 comes in (owed him this game) Bell head fakes and plant HARD for another 8 yards.

Its so subtle but something that really shows just how good Bell is is certain areas. As he gets the ball he alters his track slightly to the left avoiding the d-lineman in the backfield. Then cuts hard again off of a head fake stab outside beating the safety.

Gun set. Bell breaks through the LOS and beats the LB badly (plays it poorly as he is staring at the QB even though it is a zone look). Peek at the LB’s right ankle, Bell BREAKS that ankle as he never looks right and gives that stab/head fake left.

Steelers in a gun set. Bell recognizes the ET stunt that the Jaguars are running the knocks Calais Campbell on his ass. VERY few RB’s in the league that can do that. Not wanting him on the Jets of Darnold is just foolish at thus point.

Bell is impressive in so many ways. It very subtle but as they run this sweep notice how Bells left foot is inside his frame but opens inside allowing him to burst. ALSO notice how Bell knocks away the OLB right arm with his right arm. He is able to process so quickly.

Steelers run sweep to the strong/ boundary side. Bells awareness is apparent on this play. Bell keeps his hand on the pulling RG as he presses outside to get the DB to react outside. Bell then cuts inside and pushes his RG forward with his right forearm. Then keeps his legs clean from a low tackle attempt to gain more yardage.

Another example of Bell’s power as he takes the sweep outside. #21 is on his back but he is still looking upfield as the CB sheds #10’s block, while protecting the ball with two hands and spins. Bell is as powerful as any back you will see in the NFL.

Cant tell who made the mistake here but both the RT and Bell pick up the same guy. Bell then recognizes Mosley coming through the B-gap on a blitz. Drops his shoulder into him and takes him out of the play.

Bell comes out of the backfield on a angle/option route and beats the LB in man coverage badly as he never looks back inside to where he is cutting. Bell is able to make very strong cuts with momentum because of his lower body power. Shows up consistently on his film

Steelers run inside zone out of an 11 personnel gun set. As Bell takes the handoff he sees 0 tech in the backside a-gap so he cuts up through the play side a-gap. As he cuts through the LOS Bell keeps his shoulders over his toes allowing him to drop and jump cut away from the MLB

Bell takes the inside handoff on the goal line. He again shows off his leg strength as he hums over his center who is on the ground. Bell comes in contact with a Bears defensive lineman BEFORE he hits the ground but is still able to plant and drive for the TD (with some help).

Another 11 personnel gun set and Bell is assigned to block. LT-RG have a slide left gap protection as the RT stays and Bell is blocking opposite. Bell reads that #52 is blitzing pre snap and reacts with a good cut block. Not too early/not too late and throws himself into the legs.

Bell breaks towards the sideline on the draw. Bell sees #23 taking a bad angle too far outside. So Bell continues his angle outside, gives him a hard jab and then huddles him. Knowing #23 will be off balance and be going low. Good ball security (two hands on ball) as he lands.

22 pers, twin tight end I formation. As the LG kicks out the DB the the FB is leading Bell upfield with a block on #42. Bell sees that #34 is in position to play/react to either way that Bell cuts. Bell gives him a hard hop stop/jab outside making him react and then cuts inside.

Bell checks and releases as he throws his body into the DE (not his fault the LT got beat inside). Then runs an option route vs #55 and beats him badly. Bell gives throws a hop step/stab and hard head and shoulder fake outside. #55 is on his heels and trips.

Steelers run counter of out of an 11 personnel gun set. Bell again shows patience and ability to set up his blocks. As he takes the handoff he doesn’t shoot for the designed gap to hold the defense on the backside, allowing his blocks to set up. Again jukes another LB as well.

Steelers run a lead zone out a 22 pers tight I formation. One of the very few issues with Bells games is that at times he is too patient/just needs to take what is there. The b-gap is open (yes he would have to break an arm tackle) but he doesn’t hit it and losses a bigger gain.

Just another example of Bell’s smarts in pass protection and willingness to put his head down to protect the QB. Bell scans the defense and recognizes the blitz off of the right side. Bell slides to the right and rocks #34.

Bell is such a smooth runner. Here takes the handoff on a IZ split, checks the b gap but its clogged so he hops inside. Sees #98 holding down the backside a-gap. Hops back towards the play side then cuts hard right effectively breaks #54’s ankles.

One of the nastiest jukes I’ve ever seen. Bell leaks out of the backfield as a check down option, as he catches the ball and turns around he notices #51. Bell doesn’t look at him, gives a hard stab and head fake inside then outside then cuts back inside. My God.

Boss zone 22 personnel tight I formation. #65 penetrates the a-gap so Bell flattens his angle and keeps his balance. Breaks two more arm tackles to his legs as he cuts upfield. Then sees #26 in his peripheral vision and jump cuts back inside.

Last play of the review. As bell takes the handoff he sees the pulling LG get stood up AND the OLB crashing down hard on the backside. Bell drops his weight, plants and spins outside. Trips but regains balance with a widened step of left foo/right hand then throws another spin.