Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell could be the NFL equivalent of Superman. Faster than a speeding bullet, the ability to jump over defensive backs and the vision to break down even the best linebackers the league has to offer. In all actuality, the only thing separating him from the man of steel might be his lack of x-ray vision, but I digress. Le'Veon Bell can do it all, and he proved as much in 2014, but can he be better in 2015 while missing the first two games of the season?
While talking with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bell said he will do just that this year.
"I think I'll have better numbers this year than I did last year," Bell said.
Some might chalk this up to Bell simply being optimistic about the upcoming season. After all, what is a Pro Bowl, All-Pro and team MVP going to say when asked if he can still produce despite a two-game suspension to start the year? "Well, I don't think I will be very productive this year..." Not necessarily a ringing endorsement of self-confidence.
Bell doesn't have self-confidence issues, but is what he said even feasible in only 14 regular season games? Look at this 2014 statistics:
290 carries for 1,361 yards - both AFC highs - eight touchdowns (no fumbles)
83 receptions - second most among NFL running backs - for 854 yards - three touchdowns (no fumbles).
Those are some ridiculous statistics for any running back, but to improve on those numbers might be more than a challenge in 2015. However, I believe it is completely possible for Bell to live up to his word in 2015, but maybe not in the way the casual fan believes.
Bell might not rush for 1,300 yards, and he might not have over 800 yards receiving either, but it doesn't mean his numbers can't improve in other areas. For instance, if Bell doesn't reach his yardage totals set in 2014, but increases his touchdowns scored, it would be a welcome sight to a team who struggled in the red-zone last season.
In 2014, Bell averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per reception. It isn't out of the realm of possibility for Bell to increase those numbers, despite his total yardage not being what it was considering he will be missing two games due to suspension.
The underlying denominator in this equation isn't Ben Roethlisberger throwing him passes, or Bell's vision and ability to see the open running lanes, it is the offensive line. The men in the trenches who keep Roethlisberger upright, and open up holes for Bell. The unit is strong and returning all it's parts for 2015. Barring injury, this unit should give Bell every opportunity to eclipse his incredible stats from 2014.
These are lofty goals by the running back who has dubbed himself "Juice" going into 2015, but if the Steelers want to succeed, having a healthy Bell ready to rack up the yards is ultimately what makes the juggernaut offense click.
Can Bell improve his numbers? I believe he can, and everyone will be saying, "The Juice is loose!" by the end of 2015.