Go ahead, Le’Veon Bell: Celebrate your new big man, Mekhi Becton. He’ll help change everything for the New York Jets rushing attack.
FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Go ahead, Le’Veon Bell; allow yourself to become excited about the 2020 NFL season. Please, we beg of you to display this enthusiasm on a regular basis. Such an attitude would mark a welcomed change to the status quo.
In 2019—Bell’s first in New Jersey—the New York Jets back experienced his worst professional season. Putting up a less-than-stellar 3.2 yards per carry mark over 15 regular-season games, the Michigan State product could not get things going.
Anybody with half a brain understands why. But now with a new big man in town, No. 26 is gushing about the season, and, of course, the kid who will lead the way to the left.
“Oh, Big Ticket,” is how Bell first responded when asked about the rookie. “Me, personally, I’ve never seen somebody like that in person, so when I first saw him, I was excited. And just to see him work every day, he’s a guy who understands football. Big guys will usually try to use their weight, but he’s got the hands, he’s got the hand-eye coordination, and he’s a smart player. He gets it.”
Becton, 21, represents an organizational-changing individual. Joe Douglas’s first-ever draft choice for the Jets put an end to the organization’s 14-year first-round offensive lineman drought. Not since 2006 have the Jets decided to appropriately focus on youth upfront.
Funny things happen when personnel decision-makers get serious about the most critical five-man unit in sports.
When the rookie duo that was Mike Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini selected D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the Jets roster was considered as near-laughingstock level. Guys like Kevan Barlow, Chris Baker and the unknown Jerricho Cotchery were expected to start offensively.
Nobody thought anything great was on the horizon. Ferguson and Mangold had a different idea, and their play helped transform an offense equipped with a league-worst weapons group into a middle-of-the-pack-type unit.
Everybody in Florham Park, NJ is hoping Becton (and free-agent signing Connor McGovern) can do the same for the 2020 version. The encouraging part about that thought is the first impression Becton delivers and his desire to progress.
“If he (Becton) makes a mistake, he gets upset about it,” Bell added. “He’s a competitor, and that’s what you want … especially (for an) offensive lineman. He can be a really, really, really special player. He’s got the gifts to do it. He wants to do it, so that’s the biggest thing about him.”
New York is slated to open the season against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, 1 p.m. ET. Without a preseason, coupled with the strangest offseason in football history, questions surrounding every team are flying in from every angle.
Just how will the league-worst (DVOA) offense perform better in 2020?
Perhaps one of the sunny spots is the idea this coaching staff enters year No. 2 with the team. Those teams with a brand-new coaching staff picked the wrong offseason to shake things up.
Le'Veon Bell on Week 1:
"Guys are ready and they're hyped about it." Bell says it's gonna be "fun" to go up to Buffalo. #TakeFlight
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) September 10, 2020
“Me, personally, I understand the offense so much better that’s it’s not even close,” Bell said about entering year No. 2 of the Adam Gase offense. “It’s not even close. Just me, king of looking at the team, guys are a lot more comfortable, guys know their assignments. You know, like Sam (Darnold), he knows exactly where to go, what to do (and) what situation to put us in.”
The first mid-to-outside zone to the left side will feature Becton as the guy who needs to deliver for his back. Hands, eye-coordination and a desire to improve? If Le’Veon Bell is right about the mountain on the left side of the line, the running back so many football fans know will reemerge in 2020.
Well, as long as the rest of the offensive line obliges.