Jets’ maddening Le’Veon Bell debacle is getting worse

New York Post Sports 2 months ago

PHILADELPHIA — Le’Veon Bell might like a mulligan.

Joining the Jets on a four-year, $52.5 million deal with plans of forming a “special duo” with Sam Darnold, the star running back is now wasting a second straight year of his prime, this season as part of the league’s most anemic offense.

After sitting out last season with the Steelers, Bell, 27, has spent the majority of this year playing behind an offensive line made of silk and a quarterback who began the season on the practice squad. Through four winless games, during which the Jets have scored just two offensive touchdowns, the league’s second-highest paid running back has just one score and been limited to 2.9 yards per carry.

In five seasons with Pittsburgh, Bell made three Pro Bowls, and averaged over 4.3 yards per carry.

“There’ve been times where I’ve played for other offenses and we’ve struggled, too,” said Bell, who had 43 yards on 15 carries in Sunday’s 31-6 loss to the Eagles.

“No matter who they’re focused on, or whatever, it’s football. So any opportunity I get a chance to make a play, I gotta make the play. I think I could’ve played better today. If everybody in the locker room doesn’t feel the same way, they probably shouldn’t be here.”

Bell was the focal point of Adam Gase’s offensive game plan, receiving five carries and four targets on the Jets’ first 12 plays.

Philadelphia’s defensive game plan shared the same focus.

“That’s a great player over there and he makes that offense go,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said. “We definitely had a lot of eyes on him. We wanted to swarm him, swarm to the ball, tackle him. He’s elusive, so we did a good job with that and allowed our [defensive] line to go up there and rush the quarterback.”

When the Jets attempted a fourth-and-1 near midfield in the first quarter, the Eagles knew where Luke Falk would be looking, allowing linebacker Nathan Gerry to turn a terribly thrown ball to Bell into a 51-yard touchdown return.

“I knew that’s where the ball was going,” Gerry said. “We knew how they were going to try and attack us.”

Bell was long part of one of the league’s most explosive offenses, never experiencing a losing season in the NFL or college.

Now, he sees what was buried in the fine print of a contract to join a team without a playoff appearance since 2010.

“I’ve been playing football for so long, so nothing really surprises me anymore,” said Bell, who added seven receptions for 45 yards. “As I’m out there, I kind of feel things go wrong. I feel a play or two, ‘Dang, we missed out on it,’ but I know we’re close. We’re on the brink. Everyone just needs to take account of what they do wrong, and try to correct it. Right now everybody has to look at themselves in the mirror, and say we have to get better. Period.”

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