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Looking deeper into Le’Veon Bell’s slow start in 2017 and the potential reasons for it

In the final part of this three-part series, we take a look at the Week 3 game vs. the Chicago Bears and Bell’s final game before he exploded in 2017.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The final installment of this 3-part series will focus on how Le’Veon Bell fared against the Chicago Bears during Week 3 of the 2017 season. Facing the Bears turned out to be another trap game for the Pittsburgh Steelers with a loss to an inferior team on the road. Fans have opined how Le’Veon Bell was still rusty due to missing training camp and preseason, with the rust showing during the loss.

Would Bell still be rusty after three full weeks of practice and two games?

Was Bell bothered by his offseason groin surgery that occurred in March?

Where are the kudos for the stout Bears’ eleventh-ranked run defense?

This is where this 3-part series comes in — going back and watching video of each one of Bell’s carries and receptions during the first three weeks of the 2017 season for you to analyze and dissect.

Last up: Week 3 vs. Chicago Bears

The Bears finished the season with only five wins during a rebuilding year for the offense. Like the Cleveland Browns, the anemic offense put pressure on the defense. The Bears’ defense stepped up and gave up the tenth most total yards in the league while finishing eleventh against the run. The defense waited until Week 17 to give up 100 yards to an individual back in Latavius Murray. Running back-by-committee was their Achilles heel as the defense didn’t see other “premiere” backs.

It’s debatable how robust or meager of a day Bell ended up having. Fifteen rushes for 61 yards and a touchdown is off the pace Bell has set throughout his career, while snaring six of the seven passes thrown his way for 37 yards. Would fans not be chirping about the stats if it would have resulted in a win?

How did the Bears’ defense handle better backs in the NFL in 2017?

Week 17: Murray 20-111-2 TDs and one reception for one yard. Jerick McKinnon 12-44

Week 2: McKinnon 16-95-1 and six receptions for 51 yards. Murray 12-31

Week 12: LeGarrette Blount 15-97

Week 6: Alex Collins 15-74. Buck Allen 10-49.

Week 8: Mark Ingram 18-75-1 and six receptions for 24 yards. Alvin Kamara 8-28-1 and three receptions for 48 yards

Week 1: Devonta Freeman 12-37-1 and two receipts for two yards. Tevin Coleman 8-16 and four receptions for 42 yards.

Is your memory of games skewed by father time, media and/or fellow fans? Or has that photographic memory survived for 10 months? The only thing asked of you is to set aside your perceptions and be objective. The below video is all of the plays Bell was involved in rushing and receiving. (I believe a couple of plays called back via penalty are included.)

Disclaimer: Turn your volume down on your computer as it recorded audio from my computer. Again, I apologize for this. I sure like to use disclaimers, HA! I’m not an editing guru and this was my first attempt using brand new software. You’re all guinea pigs for future projects to come. I would like feedback on how to make the videos better.

  • The 61 rushing yards were his fifth-worst output of the season.
  • 26.7% of Bell’s rushing plays resulted in a first down while one reception went for a first down.
  • Four first-quarter touches, four second-quarter touches, five third-quarter touches, and six fourth-quarter touches. (The lone incompletion and three receptions came in the fourth.)
  • No rushes were for negative yards while three others were for one yard. Longest was for 13 yards.

After watching the video, how rusty did Bell appear? What specific plays stood out to you indicating he left yardage on the field? Did your perspective on the Browns’ run defense change? Pittsburgh starts off their season again with the Browns, so what would a disappointing stat-line look like? What would a successful one resemble? If Bell lights up the Browns in Week 1, will this put his “slow 2017 start” out of your mind?

Hopefully, everyone has enjoyed this series. Again, I apologize for the audio sneaking in.

Let us know in the comment section below!

If you missed the other two parts of the series, they are linked below:

Bell vs. the Browns in Week 1
Bell vs. the Vikings in Week 2