Le'Veon Bell is coming back this week after the Steelers got absolutely "clobbered", or "destroyed", maybe even "mutilated", what ever word describes it best, against the Eagles. It doesn't feel good but getting back arguably the best running back in the NFL right now certainly feels good, if not great, especially for Ben Roethlisberger.
DeAngelo Williams, I love him to death but he isn't Le'Veon Bell, and it became apparent to me last season just how much Bell meant to this Steelers team, specifically, their franchise QB.
The big thing which stood out to me was how different Roethlisberger was as a decision maker without him.
What do I mean?
I mean that Ben's decision making became a big problem after Bell was out of the lineup.
To prove my claim, I went back and charted all the games (including playoffs) since 2013 when Ben had Bell (for at least 2 QTRs in a game) and when he did not. I analysed the TD to INT ratio with and without Bell and the results are eye popping.
Ben Roethlisberger without Le'Veon Bell for 20 games: 33 TD's, 25 INT's
Ben Roethlisberger with Le'Veon Bell in 29 games: 56 TD's, 20 INT's
If you thought Bell wasn't as important to the Steelers offense than you believed originally, you better believe he is now after this noteworthy statistic.
Sure you can look at the 9 games and say that's why there is an increase in TD's but look at the reduction of interceptions with Bell?
To put that into perspective, that is 1.25 interceptions per game without and about 0.7 interceptions per game with Bell.
Maybe some of you don't know this, but I'm more of film guy than a statistics guy, because I'm huge believer that statistics don't tell the full story and that film doesn't lie. That isn't the case here, however, because there is no need to watch the film to back up my claim.
We already know how much better of a receiver Bell is compared to DeAngelo, or anyone else behind him, do I really need to analyse that? Bell is also a fantastic blocker out of the backfield (not that DeAngelo isn't a good blocker) but he know's just when to slip out for a pass.
Bell is the security blanket that Heath Miller was for Ben before the injury to Miller. Heath it seemed was always that guy Ben went to when his most notable WR's were covered.
That's what Bell is to Ben now, he's the "Heath Miller" of this offense when it comes to the passing game. He's the guy you go to when you need to either:
A: Get rid of the ball because no one's open down the field
B: Don't force the issue
Too many times I saw Ben these past 3 weeks constantly trying to force a pass that just wasn't there, and he should've gotten intercepted, and sometimes did. Sure, big plays are nice, but sometimes you just need to get rid of the ball.
That's not Ben, he doesn't throw away the ball very often because he wants to at least try to attempt to get some yards and points because that is his style. He's gotten better at getting the ball out quicker but when he had Bell, he had someone who could take a few yards and make it into a first down, rather than chucking the ball down field when it wasn't there (see what I mean by forcing the issue?).
The true takeaway from what I'm saying is Bell's presence is going be a huge factor going forward for the Steelers offense. The offense proved they could be productive without him, but not that's not what makes him important. Bell holds the key to not necessarily the offense being productive, but Ben Roelthlisberger's efficiency, which, in turn, helps the efficiency of the entire Steelers offense.
Less turnovers = more efficiency.
That's why Le'Veon Bell is that important to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers Superbowl aspirations.