Le’Veon Bell dominated news headlines when the All-Pro running back sat out the entire 2018 season. Bell sat out due to not being able to reach a contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bell’s decision quickly became a distraction for the Steelers with some of his teammates trashing the running back. The locker room in Pittsburgh turned into a circus and like former Steelers’ tight end Jesse James said: the Steelers were the Kardashians of the NFL.
Fast forward to now and Bell is with the New York Jets after signing a four-year, $52.5 million contract. The former Steelers running back is ready to prove he is still one of the best running backs in the NFL.
For the Steelers, James Conner flashed his potential in the offense but Pittsburgh still ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing offense. The Steelers also missed the playoffs and their team was a mess to end the 2018 season.
The Killer B’ era in Pittsburgh is officially over with Antonio Brown also being traded. As for Bell, his focus shifts to what he can do to help the Jets turn into a contender. Here are three numbers to target for Le’Veon Bell in 2019 with the Jets.
3. 75 Receptions
Before skipping out on the 2018 season, Bell was arguably the best running back in the NFL. He was considered the best by some due to his ability to make a difference in the passing game as well.
We’ve seen the likes of Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson but we haven’t seen a running back of Bell’s size be able to catch the ball as he does. You may have to go all the way back to Roger Craig to have someone of a similar size that is a receiving threat like Bell.
In Bell’s five-year career, he has three seasons where he has had at least 75 receptions. A lot will be expected of Bell in New York but the running back will undoubtedly be a focal point of the offense. Giving a young quarterback like Sam Darnold a weapon like Bell will go a long way.
With Darnold likely throwing the ball more in his second season, Bell could end up with 75 receptions for the fourth time in his career.
2. 12 Touchdowns
While Bell was in Pittsburgh, the only weakness of his (if any) was his ability to get into the end zone. In five seasons in the NFL, Bell has averaged just eight total touchdowns per season.
Although, injuries have played a part in that with the Pro Bowl running back missing 18 games in his career due to injury or suspension. Adam Gase will want to get Bell heavily involved from the moment the Jets kick off their regular season.
The possibilities are endless with a weapon like Bell, who can line up anywhere on the field in scoring situations. Bell is athletic enough to line up at receiver and run a route good enough to shake off his defender. Gase will have a field-day with drawing up plays in the red zone with Bell.
1. 1,800 Yards From Scrimmage
The last time we saw Bell suit up, he was running rampant on opposing defenses in 2017 for the Steelers. Pittsburgh gave the Jets star running back 406 touches and he racked up 1,946 yards from scrimmage.
In his career, Bell has three seasons where he has yielded over 1,800 yards from scrimmage. After sitting out an entire season last year, can Bell get back to being the same running back he was?
Some people believe there will be rust due to sitting out but the running back could be well-rested. After all, Bell had 742 touches in his last two seasons in Pittsburgh and was basically used as much as humanly possible.
Therefore, sitting out in 2018 may have actually allowed the running back to get his body right and ready to have another fruitful season.