The Pittsburgh Steelers love Le’Veon Bell, and rightfully so. The man is a workhorse, and is truly a three-down running back in the league. He can do it all: Run, block and catch will All-Pro skill and efficiency.
Despite the ongoing contract negotiations between the Steelers and Bell regarding a potential new long-term, there has also been a significant change on the offensive side of the football.
Gone is Todd Haley, and in is Randy Fichtner as Offensive Coordinator.
Most assume this change in title for Fichtner won’t result in many on-field changes, but when talking to the NFL Network after they revealed their Top 10 of their Top 100 player list Le’Veon Bell suggested Fichtner might utilize his talents differently than Haley — mainly as a receiver.
“A lot of my touches will be the same. I don’t think I will see less. I don’t think I will see more,” Bell told Kurt Warner. “I think Randy will find different ways to get me more open space. Allow me to use my moves and my strength more so against DBs as opposed to linebackers and running in between the tackles.
”I think I will have more catches and less carries but the touches will all be there.”
Bell should be utilized as much as possible in a variety of ways, but he would later in the interview state how what hurt him last season after sitting out the preseason and training camp was his cohesion with Ben Roethlisberger, not necessarily the running game.
Although the offensive line will have become accustomed to blocking for James Conner, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley in the preseason, Bell suggested it doesn’t take long for he and the line to regain the form they had to finish off the 2017 season.
Nonetheless, if Fichtner is able to get Bell into space, either flexing him out wide or out of the backfield, it will only equate to success for Bell, and the Steelers’ offense. Everyone remembers the abuse Bell delivers to defensive backs in the open field, just ask Dre Kirkpatrick of the Bengals, and to see more of that will be a welcome sight.
A lot of this may hinge on the success of others. For instance, if James Conner is running the ball well, they might be able to run two-back sets and utilize Bell as more of a receiver and allow Conner to stay in the backfield. However, if Bell is used as more of a receiver, would it impact how many receivers make the team?
A lot of questions, and possibilities, in this scenario, but one thing which remains a constant and that would be those pesky contract negotiations. If the two sides can somehow come to terms on a deal, it would make life for Fichtner and the Steelers’ offense a lot easier.