Running back Le’Veon Bell is the first player in Pittsburgh Steelers history to gain at least 100 total yards in the first five games of a season, after gaining 118 yards on the ground and in the air yesterday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
More impressive is the pace at which he is gaining his real estate.
Through five games, Bell continues to average 5.3 yards per carry after averaging just 3.5 yards per carry throughout his rookie season.
The only game in which he did not average over five yards per carry was last week, against Gerald McCoy and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—also the only game in which he has failed to record an explosive play.
Yesterday, Bell averaged 5.5 yards per carry, rushing 15 times for 82 yards, which gives him 460 rushing yards for the season. That figure trails only Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who’s begun the year with five straight 100-yard rushing games.
Murray, in fact, is not far behind Bell’s pace, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but Bell also has only two-thirds of Murray’s carries. The Cowboys back has already rushed 130 times, on pace for over 400 rushes on the year.
It’s no surprise then that he leads the league in rushing by 210 yards, then, with his 670 rushing yards, though Bell ranks third in the league in yards per rush among those with at least 50 attempts this season.
Murray also has five touchdown runs this season, though he has also fumbled four times, losing all of them. Bell has just the one score from the season opener, but he has had sure hands—one turnover, in fact, in his career thus far.
Bell also ranks second among running backs, behind Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears, in receiving yards, so far catching 24 passes for 228 yards at 9.5 yards per catch, which is more than half a yard better than in his rookie season.
In all, he is averaging 6.2 yards per touch on 111 touches between rushes and receptions—certainly an impressive number for a running back.
It’s worth noting that Bell should eclipse 2000 total yards next week, as he currently has 1947 career yards. He is averaging 108 yards per game for his career, though he is averaging nearly 30 yards more per game in year two.
In an era in which the Steelers are transitioning to a pass-oriented offensive team, they certainly seem to have made the right decision in choosing their running back of the future, as Bell is equally deadly on the ground and in the air like few others.