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Thread: Le'Veon Bell is key to Steelers' success

  1. #1
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    Le'Veon Bell is key to Steelers' success

    Le'Veon Bell is key to Steelers' success

    JUN 27
    By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com



    Le'Veon Bell is being counted on to help re-establish the Pittsburgh Steelers' running game.

    Running back Le'Veon Bell wasn't the Pittsburgh Steelers' first pick of the 2013 draft. That was outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was taken No. 17 overall.

    And Bell wasn't the first running back selected in the draft. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Giovani Bernard 11 spots ahead of Bell in the second round.

    But when it comes to importance and immediate impact, no one ranks ahead of Bell. The big, elusive Michigan State runner is the leading candidate to get the Steelers' once proud rushing attack back on track. He's their best hope to bring back big plays to the ground game. He's also the key to turning the Steelers into a playoff team again.

    Pittsburgh needs Bell to be more than a starter. It needs him to be a finisher. An offensive coordinator once told me that throwing the ball scores points, but running it wins games. Teams need to be able to grind out yards and the clock to close out games, something the Steelers were unable to do last season.

    According to ESPN Stats & Information, Pittsburgh ranked 25th in the NFL in fourth-quarter rushing yards. How important is that? The nine teams that struggled the most running the ball in the fourth quarter all missed the playoffs. Four of the top five teams in fourth-quarter rushing last season made the playoffs.

    Le'Veon Bell After Contact

    Le'Veon Bell gained 921 yards after contact in 2012, most among players from AQ schools. Bell gained more than 50 percent of his yards after contact and averaged 2.4 yards after contact per rush.

    Running back School YAC

    Le'Veon Bell Michigan State 921
    Montee Ball Wisconsin 887
    Ka'Deem Carey Arizona 885
    Johnathan Franklin UCLA 765

    Source: ESPN Stats & Information

    Some would argue that losing teams were forced to throw the ball in the fourth quarter because they were trailing. The Steelers, though, held a fourth-quarter lead in 11 of their 16 games in 2012. You can make the case that a limping running game had as much to do with the Steelers' disappointing 8-8 record last season as a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger.

    This is why Bell looks like a great fit for Pittsburgh. He was college football's ultimate workhorse last season. No one had more than Bell's 382 carries, and only one other back had more than 356 carries. The watershed moment of his career came against Boise State last year, when he touched the ball 50 times for 265 total yards in a 17-13 comeback victory.

    Bell wants to run the ball on first down. He wants to catch it on third down. He wants the ball as much in the final quarter as the first.

    "In the fourth quarter, thatís grind time," Bell said at the team's mandatory minicamp earlier this month. "Thatís when you have to bring it home. Thatís when you know your team is going to look to you to make plays, and thatís something you look forward to. You have to take pride in that and get the job done."

    Bell hasn't been named the starting running back, but it would be a surprise to see anyone else lining up behind Roethlisberger when the Steelers kick off their season against the Tennessee Titans, even though recent history is against Bell. The last rookie to lead the Steelers in rushing was Tim Worley in 1989, three years before Bell was born.

    The Steelers can call it a competition at running back, but Pittsburgh will have trouble running the ball if Bell doesn't step up immediately. The Steelers are coming off their second-worst rushing season (1,537 yards) since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. General manager Kevin Colbert didn't hide his dissatisfaction, saying at the NFL combine in February, "Where we were in the running game last year was indicative of the talent at the position.Ē

    Rashard Mendenhall wasn't re-signed. Jonathan Dwyer was reportedly shopped around after Bell was drafted. And Isaac Redman has proved to be nothing more than a backup.



    Le'Veon Bell's versatility was appealing to the Steelers.

    "You got to go out there and compete," Bell said. "Iím not saying Iím going to be a starter. Iím not saying anything. Iím just going to do the best that I can."

    Some may wonder why the Steelers waited until the second round to draft Bell when he's so valuable to this season and the future. Part of it goes back to the devaluation of running backs in general because they have shorter careers. Teams also had questions about this running back class in particular.

    There are durability concerns about Bernard and Eddie Lacy. There are doubts about Montee Ball's top-end speed. Bell has to prove he can run between the tackles, show he can pass protect and change his upright running style, which makes him -- at 6-foot-1 -- too big of a target.

    What separates Bell from those other backs taken in the second round is his supporting cast. Bernard, Ball and Lacy all had linemen blocking for them who were drafted in the first round this year. Bell didn't have the luxury of open holes, which is why he led the nation with 921 yards after contact last season.

    ďIt was pretty clear that this was the guy that we would be most excited about being available when it came to our pick,Ē offensive coordinator Todd Haley said after the Steelers drafted Bell.

    There's a common misconception about Bell because of his size. Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis welcomed Bell on Twitter by writing: "The steel city loves big backs!!" Bell is 244 pounds, but he doesn't consider himself a bruising back. He has more finesse in his game. He likes to get outside and has been known to hurdle tacklers in the open field.

    Bell isn't trying to be the next Bettis, but he is quite familiar with the success of the Steelers' running game in the past and wants it to reach that level once again.

    "Growing up, my family was hard-core Pittsburgh Steelers fans. I know the Steelers love revolving their offense around the running game," said Bell, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio. "The fact that they picked me made me very happy. Iím glad where Iím at, and I want to go out there and make plays for them."

    http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/pos...eelers-success

  2. #2
    Bell beating out Dwyer and Redman will be a step but not a key to Steeler success. Should Bell develope into a better then average starter then we have something. Lets say better then Mendenhall then we have something. His size and moves remind me a little of A.Foster of the Texans. Should he get anywhere close to that level we are all going to be feeling real good.

  3. #3
    Hall of Famer Djfan's Avatar
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    I like the fact that he can catch. Gives Ben more options and hold LBs to an honest attack.

    Sounds like a FB might be a good addition to Bell?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron City Inc. View Post
    Bell beating out Dwyer and Redman will be a step but not a key to Steeler success. Should Bell develope into a better then average starter then we have something. Lets say better then Mendenhall then we have something. His size and moves remind me a little of A.Foster of the Texans. Should he get anywhere close to that level we are all going to be feeling real good.
    Bell's biggest knock, just from a fan's PoV, is his lack of breakaway ability. So many of his runs were of him getting hog tied (caught) from behind. I'm not saying he won't be a good back... I actually have high hopes for him. But when I saw the comparison to Arian Foster (I know you didn't compare his speed), I kinda chuckled at that.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoe View Post
    Bell's biggest knock, just from a fan's PoV, is his lack of breakaway ability. So many of his runs were of him getting hog tied (caught) from behind. I'm not saying he won't be a good back... I actually have high hopes for him. But when I saw the comparison to Arian Foster (I know you didn't compare his speed), I kinda chuckled at that.
    Bell was timed at 4.60 at the combine. I know that isn't great but good. On Fosters pro day he ran a 4.69. Numbers don't tell everything but they tell us enough.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Iron City Inc. View Post
    Bell was timed at 4.60 at the combine. I know that isn't great but good. On Fosters pro day he ran a 4.69. Numbers don't tell everything but they tell us enough.
    yeah...I believe Bell plays every bit as fast as Foster.

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    If Bell can run for 3 yards and not need a breather, then he's already beaten out Dwyer.

    I just don't see any way this kid isn't the starter day 1 with the backs he's completing with right now. He led the Big Ten in rushing and has good hands. I can't wait to see what he can do.

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    The KEY to the Steelers success IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE keeping Ben upright and healthy. Just look at last year when we were doing great until Ben godt hurt and came back and played hurt. Ben can't shrug off injuries like he use too so Ben is the key.

    Hopefully Bell can add some diversity that helps the OL keep the defense honest and not tee off on Ben.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
    If Bell can run for 3 yards and not need a breather, then he's already beaten out Dwyer.

    I just don't see any way this kid isn't the starter day 1 with the backs he's completing with right now. He led the Big Ten in rushing and has good hands. I can't wait to see what he can do.
    Barring injury to one of the other RBs, Dwyer shouldn't even be on the roster come Week 1 IMO.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain QB View Post
    Barring injury to one of the other RBs, Dwyer shouldn't even be on the roster come Week 1 IMO.

    I would say the same about Redman instead of Dwyer. What upside does Redman have? If Dwyer is in shape, and I think he will be, he is a significantly better RB than Redman.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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