The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who relies on it's playmakers to do just that -- make plays. Without Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup in Week 7 against the New England Patriots, the offense leaned on running back Le'Veon Bell, and it paid huge dividends.
Bell is the most dynamic back in the NFL, and his play throughout this game showed just how valuable, and versatile, he is. In this Film Room session we will look at three plays which all show a different aspect of Bell's game, and what he brings to the table week-in and week-out, but more importantly to see if he has any glaring weaknesses in his game.
Everyone know just how lethal Bell is as a receiver, but there are times when his biggest plays through the air aren't him being lined up along the line of scrimmage, but out of the backfield. Most defenses deploy a linebacker to follow the running back out of the backfield when he shows himself as a pass option, but the Patriots leave a safety in the box to cover Bell, and it doesn't matter.
The quick hitter swing pass almost sets up like a screen pass with David DeCastro kicking out on the safety and helping to open a gaping hole into the middle of the field for a 22-yard gain. This is what happens when talent meets execution and quality play calling.
When it comes to Bell running the football, everyone typically talks about his patience and vision, but few talk about his tenacity and ability to rarely get knocked backwards. This 12-yard run epitomizes Bell's ability in this regard. Taking the ball out of the shotgun formation, the play looks like it won't be going anywhere. The Patriots have the play sniffed out and defenders are in position to make a play.
Now some will call this a missed tackle by the defense, but I always put missed tackles in two categories: 1.) a straight up miss. And 2.) a play where the ball carrier's move made the defender miss. Think back to Barry Sanders' playing days. He made people miss, and this is exactly what happens on this play, and it results in the biggest run from scrimmage as Bell continues to push forward, with a little help from DeCastro at the end.
Give Bell time, space and a few blockers to pave the way and you can expect him to make a play. On this play you see a simple toss right play out of the shotgun formation for 11-yards. Watch the blocking on the edge. Jesse James does a tremendous job sealing the linebacker while Chris Hubbard shows tremendous speed and athleticism to pave the way for Bell.
This just goes to show Bell can run both inside and outside, or in other words, he can pretty much do it all.
Is there a weakness to Bell's game? If so, I have yet to find it. Bell can run inside, outside, in short yardage, out of the shotgun and any other way you can think. Bell is also equally as exciting in the passing game both lined as a receiver, but also out of the backfield. What wasn't shown in this Film Room breakdown was just how good Bell is in pass protection.
He can do it all, and is a large reason why the Steelers can ill afford to let him walk after the 2016 season is over.