Yes, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is the man, and has carried this team to victory many times in the past, but let me explain why having a running back by committee is helping NFL teams succeed and stay healthy in the long run.
Whether it is lining Le'Veon Bell up as a slot receiver, or having DeAngelo Williams (when healthy again) run the football, these two excellent running backs need to get on the field and share carries. This is critical if the team wants to keep both backs healthy for the duration of the season.
Last season, backup running back DeAngelo Williams earned a total of 907 rushing yards. This was because star running back Le'Veon Bell injured his knee against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6.
Bell was suspended for the first two games of the 2016 season due to violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and during these two games Williams rushed for 204 yards and earned three touchdowns. After Bell returned from his suspension, Williams earned a total of 35 yards through 5 games while Bell earned 511 yards.
This season is no different. Yes, Williams has been injured these last few weeks, but let's talk about the game where he was 100-percent healthy.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, Bell's 2016 NFL debut, the former second-round all-pro running back earned a total of 144 yards on 18 carries along with 5 receptions for 34 yards. He is Le'Veon Bell after all, and is the man when it comes to the Steelers backfield.
BUT... you also (at the time) had a healthy backup in DeAngelo Williams. In this game, Williams carried the football 4 times for 7 yards and earned a touchdown. He also had a reception for 2 yards. Yes, quite terrible but just getting the football in the hands of both of these athletes will balance out the workload.
As you can see, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley did not utilize both running backs with a shared carries mentality. It was all Bell for the five games while Williams sat the bench last season, and this continues to be the case in 2016.
In order to keep both running backs healthy, especially Bell, who has been hurt a few times in the past, it is critical for Haley to share the carries with both running backs. It's not like Williams is a terrible football player. He has rushed for a total of 258 yards and earned two touchdowns this year when Bell faced yet another suspension; this time for three games.
ESPN ranked all 32 NFL running back duos in a recent article. Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams are listed at number two falling right behind the Atlanta Falcons and their incredible duo with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Talk about two athletic running backs that DO get shared carries. It IS a running back by committee and the team has been successful so far with this mentality.
When the Falcons faced the New Orleans Saints in Week 3, Coleman and Freeman combined for a total of 194 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Coleman earned 42 rushing yards, 47 receiving yards and earned three touchdowns. Freeman earned 152 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards and earned one touchdown (receiving).
Want to know the real reason why Bell and Williams are listed at number two on this list? Well it's quite simple: Freeman and Coleman actually are on the field at the same time or share carries. Either way they both are earning touchdowns and gaining yards.
Last season's horrific 5-game span where Williams earned a total of 35 rushing yards to Bell's 511 is just embarrassing. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley NEEDS to find a way to get both running backs involved one way or another. It is not only critical to the health of both Bell and Williams, it will make the NFL very scared of the potential matchups.
Just imagine if you're a linebacker or safety in the National Football League and you have to cover Le'Veon Bell in the slot while also making sure DeAngelo Williams doesn't run up the middle or do a simple screen pass. The options are endless and Todd Haley just needs to figure out ways to get them involved.
The best advice I have for Haley is to call up Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and ask him how he does it. Pittsburgh needs Bell to stay healthy for an entire year if they want this team to succeed long-term, and this is the proper method in doing so.