Former MSU star Le’Veon Bell will need to spearhead rebirth of rough Jets run game
Le’Veon Bell is the leader of a unique group of Jets running backs.
There’s a mix of young and old. Frank Gore, who joined the Jets during free agency, entered the league in 2005. In 2005, Jets rookie running back La’Mical Perine was just seven years old.
Gang Green is hoping that this mix of star talent, age, experience and youth will revitalize one of the worst rushing offenses from the 2019 season. Last season, the Jets averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, 31st in the league.
Obviously, that figure has to improve and that starts with Bell. Bell believes the Jets have the potential to be a good rushing team, but it’s going to take the effort of the entire offense.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Bell said. “It starts with the guys up front. I think, over the course of camp, each and every day they’ve been getting better and grinding and staying in their playbooks and being sharp in their assignments. So, really it starts with those guys up front. Obviously getting the runs called and getting us in the right call. It’s a whole total team thing.”
The former Michigan State standout will need the help of his team to improve upon his career worst 3.2 yards per carry last season. The offensive line has put forward a mixed bag of training camp results so far, which perhaps should be expected with four new starters attempting to build chemistry in an abbreviated offseason.
“As runners, we gotta do our job and run hard,” Bell said. “Receivers gotta be on the edge and block. As a run group, it’s going to be a total team effort. I think everyone’s kind of getting on that same page and we’re getting closer and closer everyday.”
While Bell will see the bulk of the Jets carries again, Gore and Perine will carve out their own roles within the Jets offense.
“I like Perine, he’s a big guy,” Bell said. “He doesn’t really run like an SEC-type of back, he kind of runs like a guy who is downhill, like a one cut guy and go… he’s going to be a very good, solid player. Obviously with him it’s just going to be being young and learning the offense and not thinking so much.”
Gore, who is entering his 16th season in the NFL, has apparently been a source of knowledge for Bell on how to age in the NFL.
“I look at a guy like Frank Gore and I’m fortunate that he’s in my room,” Bell said. “I kinda pick his brain over little things, like just here and there. Just me talking to him, he kinda has a similar mindset that I have. So the fact that he’s 37 years old and he’s playing at a high level still and he’s talking about the things he was doing when he was 28… I know I’m doing the right things because I’m hearing from a guy that’s done it and doing it.”
Even with inconsistent offensive line play, Bell has managed to look explosive in camp when he has the opportunity to reach space. The Jets’ run defense, which finished first in opposing yards per carry (3.3) last season, has been a useful tool for Bell as he gets ready for the upcoming season.
“Gregg Williams is a great defensive coordinator. Even when I was in Pittsburgh and he was in Cleveland he gave problems to the run game,” Bell said. “So, seeing that every single day, seeing these blitz pickups every single day, seeing these third down pressures every single day, it’s gonna wear on you and make things that much easier in the game. A lot of teams don’t have schematics the way he does, he really tries to trick you and make you do things you don’t want to do.”
Perhaps the Jets run defense can be a source of improvement for their run offense as they continue to practice against each other during camp. Iron sharpens iron, and the Jets offense has a lot of sharpening to do.