In his first game as a New York Jet, Le’Veon Bell showcased his unique ability to positively affect the game in a multitude of ways.
Le’Veon Bell is the rare running back who is capable of executing at a high level in every single aspect of the position – catching, route-running, blocking, ball security – you name it, Bell does it better than the average running back.
There was one game in particular where Bell’s complete package of abilities shined in a way reminiscent of his Pittsburgh days, and that was his very first appearance in a Jets uniform. In the team’s one-point loss to open the season, Bell was the best player on the field, contributing in a variety of ways as he carried a lethargic Jets offense.
Yesterday, I took a look back at some of Sam Darnold’s best moments in his underrated outing against Cincinnati. Today, we’ll delve into what the peak version of Le’Veon Bell looks like through a collection of his most outstanding plays against Buffalo in Week 1 of 2019.
We’ll start off with Bell’s performance in the run game. His elusiveness as a runner was on full display in his Jets debut. Although he finished the game with an uninspiring 60 yards on 17 carries (3.5 per carry), Bell was creating most of that yardage himself. He led the NFL with nine broken tackles in Week 1, which ended up as his season-best.
On this 2nd & 14 play just outside of the Jets’ own end zone, Bell pushes the C-gap between right tackle Brandon Shell and a pulling Ryan Griffin. A defensive back comes in from the outside and dives at Bell’s hip, and Bell minimizes the impact by accurately landing his stiff-arm on the defender’s shoulder and pushing him to the ground. Bell is then able to make another defender miss by selling outside and cutting back inside – doing so while the first defender was still draped around his legs. Incredible contact balance for a 12-yard gain.
Bell shows excellent vision, patience, and poise on this next pickup, which goes for 10 yards and a first down on 1st & 10.
As Bell takes the handoff, Ryan Kalil is destroyed, clogging up the back side A-gap, while a linebacker is about to penetrate the play side A-gap unblocked. The 3-technique over right guard Brian Winters has leverage to the play side B-gap. There is nowhere to go. So, Bell takes a lateral hop to give things time to play out. The play side linebacker trips and leaves the A-gap open, giving Bell his lane. Bell creates more room by pressing outside to move the 3-technique. He then cuts through the hole and dodges an ankle tackle on his way to 10 yards. Such a smart play.