James Conner might be better than Le’Veon Bell, when it comes to forcing missed tackles
The Pittsburgh Steelers have done a fairly good job of weathering the absence of running back Le’Veon Bell, and James Conner has played a big role in that. The second-year back has been an admirable presence in Pittsburgh’s backfield as Bell’s placeholder.
Of course, that’s not to say that the 2-2-1 Steelers would prefer having Conner over Bell nor does that mean that the former is better than the latter. Statistics show at least one area in which Conner has been better at than Le’Veon Bell, per Pro Football Focus.
James Conner is forcing missed tackles at a higher rate so far this season than any season of Le'Veon Bell's career so far. pic.twitter.com/YWodhPwgzl
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 12, 2018
These numbers don’t tell the whole story, as there are other factors contributing to the discrepancy in the two running backs’ avoided tackles per touch averages, but it’s a good sign nonetheless for Conner, whose job calls for him to fill in the shoes of one of this generation’s greatest offensive weapons.
Conner looked exactly just like the guy who would supply the energy for the Steelers’ ground attack while Bell is out when he exploded for 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries to go with 57 receiving yards on five receptions in Week 1’s 21-21 draw with the Cleveland Browns. But then he went on a three-game streak without surpassing 61 rushing yards, though, that’s largely because the Steelers reduced his touches –until Week 5’s meeting with the Atlanta Falcons.
Against Matt Ryan and company, Conner racked up 110 yards and a pair of rushing scores on 21 carries while adding 75 receiving yards on four catches.
James Conner will look to keep it going this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road.