Offense Will Run Through Le'Veon Bell

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.


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Tags: Dri Archer Le'Veon Bell LeGarrette Blount Pittsburgh Steelers


    Bell is a solid weapon, however, he will be at the mercy of Todd Haley’s idiocy once again if he is not utilized correctly. If you go back & watch tape from last year, you’ll see a back w/Bell’s skill-set punished by play-calling which has him running out of painfully obvious run formations, and bunched-in jumbo packages which essentially invite more defenders into the box which cause a back with Bell’s lack of shiftiness and speed to suffer. While athletic, Bell (like many NFL RBs) is simply not physically equipped enough to run away or through 8-9 man boxes on a consistent basis and churn out chunks of positive yardage.

    However, a back like Bell really excels when there are less impediments for him to encounter going to the second level, and he did a fine job last year running out of “11” personnel packages. I.e. when useless players like Spaeth, W. Johnson and Paulson were on the sidelines and defenses had to account for AB, Miller, Cotchery and Sanders, the running lanes were much more open and available to the rookie. Plus, when Bell is in the game in those packages, he can be matched against slower linebackers and smaller defensive backs when he is utilized in the passing game. While his hands aren’t fantastic, he is more than an adequate receiving threat, and splitting him in the slot a la Mewelde Moore should be something the offense looks into this fall to create mismatches and direct attention away from other playmakers like AB, Miller, Moore, Wheaton and potentially even Bryant or Justin Brown.

    From what I witnessed last season, a back with Bell’s unique skill-set can flourish in a pass-to set up the-run type of offense, and he proved that towards the end of last season when Pittsburgh employed that particular strategy during their 6-2 finish (coincidentally enough, it took place when Kirby Wilson had an expanded role in the offense). However, if Haley tries to turn the offense into a ground-and-pound joke and forces his actual playmakers at WR to lose playing time to useless backup TEs & H-Backs, Bell’s effectiveness will suffer, his upright running style will leave him open to ridiculous punishment and his yards per carry average will hover around last year’s 3.5 mark.

    • Milliken Steeler

      As soon as you said ” useless players like Spaeth” I tuned you out as the run game became instantly better when he came back from injury.


        The run game got better because the inclusion of receivers on the edge (i.e. more “11” personnel packages,” particularly a solid blocker like Cotchery, took potential defenders out of the box and gave a back with Bell’s skill-set more opportunities to be successful (as a receiver too). Packing people in like the overrated Spaeth is a joke. The threat of the pass and pass formations to set up the run is what improved the running game down the stretch (i.e. Roethlisberger’s strong November & December).

        Tune me out if you wish, but don;t come crying to me and wondering what’s happening when Bell is averaging 3.5 ypc and the team is running more “12” personnel & jumbo formations (extra OL, 3 TE and/or FB) rather than utilizing players who can cause matchup issues like Moore, Wheaton, Bryant and Justin Brown who in turn take pressure off of AB & Heath as much as they do Bell and the ground game.

        Of course, I’m fully prepared to watch Todd Haley employ a ridiculous 1973 “ground and pound” scheme and the offense’s best weapons suffer in the process.

        • John Beckwith

          Maybe not ground and pound but keep a balanced offense. Ben has always been best off of play-action. You try and sling it with Big Ben 40x a game and you are gonna lose more than you’ll win.
          PS pick a normal name, SDAZT.