Le'Veon Bell Rumors: Jets RB 'Highly Motivated' to Prove 2019 Was Aberration

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJune 28, 2020

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell (26) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Dermer)
David Dermer/Associated Press

After holding out the entire 2018 season for a new contract from the Pittsburgh Steelers, running back Le'Veon Bell did little to cement himself as one of the league's top rushers in 2019.

The New York Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal the following spring—one of the most lucrative contracts for a running back in NFL history—and in return Bell finished with the 24th-most rushing yards in the league (789) and just four total touchdowns. 

As the 2020 season nears, the pressure is on both Bell and the Jets to show the down year was nothing more than a fluke. 

According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, Bell is "highly motivated" to prove just that, and the Jets have been holding additional virtual sessions this summer to clean up their running game. 

Cimini reports New York is holding calls with offensive linemen, tight ends and running backs to discuss terminology and concepts. Those conversations have included Bell.

"I think that's something he enjoyed," Jets head coach Adam Gase told Cimini.

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After finishing with the second-fewest rushing yards in the league last year, New York needs to revamp its ground attack. 

The club added depth up front by signing linemen Josh Andrews, George Fant, Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten. Then it selected arguably the top offensive tackle of the draft in Louisville's Mekhi Becton with the No. 11 overall pick.

Bell will also get some help in the backfield from Frank Gore this season.

2019 marked the first time Bell has started at least 12 games and failed to reach 1,000 rushing yards since his rookie season. Two years after leading the league with 321 carries, the Jets gave him the ball just 245 times. Part of that has to do with facing early deficits. The Jets ran 15,253 plays when they were trailing on the scoreboard last season as opposed to 17,228 when they were either tied or leading. Of the plays they ran when down, 9,378 were passing attempts. 

The opportunities for Bell to find a true rhythm just didn't exist. 

A more balanced offense in 2020 should help that, but the 28-year-old will need to prove himself again to regain the benefit of the doubt. 

   

Statistics via ProFootballReference.com

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