Between praising his team's performance against a talented Kansas City Chiefs team and offering some brief words on the late Arnold Palmer, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin compared Le'Veon Bell, one of the best dual-threat running backs in the NFL, to New York Jets RB Matt Forte, one of the best dual-threat running backs in NFL history.
"I thought a lot about Matt Forte's skillset as I stood and watched Le'Veon Bell's pro day," Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday.
In just 36 career games, Bell has racked up nearly 4,400 total yards; his 122 yards per game average ranks first in the NFL since 2013. Forte, meanwhile, has averaged just over 105 yards per game over the course of his 124-game career. In fact, Forte's 13,089 career all-purpose yards ranks eighth among active players and 66th all time. Though Forte is undoubtedly approaching the end of his career (he turns 31 in December), the two-time Pro Bowler still has some time to ascend even higher on that list. Forte is, after all, just two years removed from a 1,900-yard season in which he led the NFL with 102 catches. That season, Bell caught 83 balls, good for second place on that list.
At this point in their respective careers, Bell is far more dynamic than Forte as a runner and receiver, though Forte has an undeniable edge in terms of consistency and longevity. Remarkably, Forte averaged 60 receptions and 520 receiving yards - along with nearly 1,100 rushing yards - per season during his tenure as a member of the Chicago Bears.
Despite Forte's individual success, Chicago made the playoffs just once in his eight seasons with the team. The Steelers have appeared in the postseason twice in Bell's three seasons with the team, though the former second-round pick has yet to appear in a postseason game due to injuries. Bell has already missed 16 games in his career, whereas Forte has missed just eight games in eight seasons.
Forte's usage in New York' offense has dwindled since his monster three-touchdown effort in a Week 2 victory over the Jets, and the veteran back is currently on pace to match his career low in receptions. However, Pittsburgh has struggled to defend screen passes this season, so Forte could certainly be in line to be Ryan Fitzpatrick's second-favorite target behind Brandon Marshall.
Bell and Forte should both have the chance to flash their receiving skills this Sunday, as New York and Pittsburgh rank second and fourth in the NFL in run defense, respectively.