The Chicago Bears made the RIGHT decision in NOT signing Le'Veon Bell: This is why.
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
LAY-vee-on, not LEE-vee-on. -
In a time when TikTok-ing was just the sound a clock made, therein lay the beautiful decade known simply as the 2010s.
And during that decade, Le’Veon Bell reigned supreme as the iconic running back. Bell was a man who was more patient than a kid who waits until 9 AM on Christmas morning to open up his Christmas gifts. He was a halfback who waited until the proper hole opened up and then hit it with such veracity that no linebacker could slow him down.
But once the 2010s got ever closer to the 2020s, Bell decided to take his talents to the Big Apple. And his running statistics suffered as a result of him changing jerseys.
Less than 2 years later, coupled with an anemic 3.3 yards per carry, the J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! Couldn’t even find a decent trade partner for the somewhat annoying tailback. He was so untradeable that the Jets allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Insert the middle of October, and Le’Veon Bell is a member of his third NFL team….The problem is that team isn’t the Chicago Bears. The Bears were a finalist to get him, but he inevitably chose a different team.
But are the Bears wrong in not obtaining his services? Well, we can evaluate the good, bad, and the ugly that Bell brings to the table.
First, the good. Bell’s running stats in Pittsburgh were very impressive. When healthy, Bell had three years of over 1,200 rushing yards. He was such a valuable asset out of the backfield that he also posted two seasons of 105-or-more targets.
Quite frankly, Bell was an unstoppable force in the AFC from most of 2013-2017. But is Bell a great player or a product of playing under Mike Tomlin, with Ben Roethlisberger, and that excellent Steelers offensive line?
In my opinion, it’s a little bit of both. Look, when you have a first ballot Hall of Famer in Big Ben throwing the ball your way, it’s usually going to be on target. And even when Big Ben was hurt, it’s not exactly difficult to check the ball down to your tailback.
Still, Bell is an excellent route runner, and there is something to be said for your offensive coordinator trusting his QB to throw it over 100 times your direction. 107 targets in 15 games equates to over 7 targets per game, and combined with the fact that Antonio Brown was on the roster, it just shows how much Tomlin wanted his star running back involved in the passing game.
On the other hand, Bell had a lot of help. Maurice Pouncey has been an outstanding center since joining the league in 2010, and even before the arrival of Bell, Pittsburgh was a very decent running team when Willie Parker led the charge.
Simply put, Tomlin knows how to run the ball and develop schemes to run it effectively when his usual starting O-Linemen are injured. Oh yeah, don’t forget about David DeCasto and Alejandro Villenueva being on the O-Line during Bell’s glory years.
See what I’m saying? Even Bell’s great is somewhat skewed.
Okay, how about the bad? In a manner of speaking, Adam Gase is below .500 as a head coach. There’s a reason why the phrase “Gase Closed” is trending on Twitter. Ryan Tannehill has thrived at QB ever since leaving Gase’s Miami Dolphins, and the Jets are now on their way to receiving the No. 1 overall draft pick for only the second time in franchise history. Wow that’s bad.
But still, should everything be blamed on Gase who didn’t know how to use Bell? In a word? No. I’m always in the mindset that Hall of Fame talent trumps all. And I just don’t know if Bell is that good. Come on man. 3.3 yards per carry? And there were Steelers fans thinking this guy was a future Hall of Famer. Even with the worst offensive line of all-time, I still believe that elite running backs like Tomlinson, Faulk, Sanders, etc. could get over close to 4 Yards per Carry.
The train wreck that happened to Bell in New York proves to me that he’s kind of a system running back. A very talented back and possibly the most patient in the history of the NFL. But can he become the catalyst for a franchise like Marshall Faulk was in St. Louis? I just don’t see it. If he was that good, Bell and Sam Darnold would at least be a fringe playoff team in East Rutherford, New Jersey. As it currently stands, Trevor Lawrence could become the next franchise signal-caller of the Jets.
And how about the ugly side of Bell? I hated how he quit on the Steelers back in 2018. I don’t care if he deemed it a smart business decision. You don’t quit on your team. You either play the games or retire. I was never ticked off that Barry Sanders retired when he did. If you don’t want to play anymore, then don’t. But don’t just give up on your teammates.
And the funny part is, the Steelers reportedly offered him a better contract extension than the one he signed with the Jets. Even better is the Steelers now look like a prime contender to make it to the Super Bowl, while Le’Veon’s former team is the worst one in the NFL.
So with all of that in mind, was it a smart decision for the Bears to not overspend on Bell this week? My opinion is yes. You brought in Lamar Miller for a reason, and David Montgomery is only in his second season. Plus, I just don’t think that Matt Nagy wants the constant irritation that Bell has become. Bell is certainly not the headache that Antonio Brown became, but I just don’t like how he quit on the Steelers. And Bell wasn’t exactly an Eagle Scout during his time with the Jets.
Bringing him into a locker room that already has the distraction of Allen Robinson wanting a contract extension just seems disastrous for me.
And also….Matt Nagy doesn’t exactly like to pound the rock. Would Le’Veon be interested in 5-8 receptions per game in order to get his touches? I don’t know.
Bell wants to be the centerpiece of the offense, and when you look at his awful Jets numbers, I don’t if he’s a bell cow running back anymore. To me, Bell is a 1A running back, not a Top 5 tailback anymore. I would’ve liked to see him as a Bear, but I don’t mind the team giving Miller a legitimate shot to split the carries with Montgomery.
But what do you think? Should the Bears have done everything possible to get Bell? Make sure to comment below and subscribe to this channel.