Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that his teammates have voted running back Le’Veon Bell as the team MVP for the 2014 season, and there was certainly nobody more deserving than the second-year player.
There were certainly other worthy candidates, such as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has won the award once previously, and Antonio Brown, who has already won it twice, including as recently as last season, but this year belonged to Bell.
In just his second season, Bell has become the focal point of the offense, through which the entire system runs. He has 359 touches on the year, a number that has been on the rise over the final third of the season since the team dumped their backup running back.
Bell has already set a new franchise record in yards from scrimmage in a season, passing Barry Foster’s mark with his combined 2115 yards on the ground and through the air, and he still has one more game to extend his lead to chase in future seasons.
What makes him such a special player is the fact that he is equally effective as a runner as well as a receiver. While he is second in the league with 1341 rushing yards on 282 attempts, he also has 77 receptions for 774 yards.
That rushing yardage total ranks fifth in team history for a single season. He also has the most receptions and receiving yards by a running back in a season in franchise history.
Then there was the three-game span a few weeks back in which Bell totaled 485 rushing yards and 227 receiving yards for a total of 712 yards. He recorded over 200 yards from scrimmage in each of those three games, becoming only the second player in league history to do so behind Walter Payton. He is also only the fourth player in league history to record at least 1300 rushing yards and 750 receiving yards in the same season.
Most recently, Bell has greatly increased his value by becoming a consistent threat to score as the offense has become more balanced in his approach in the red zone, running the ball more, and with more effectiveness.
Over the past five games, Bell has recorded eight of his 11 touchdowns on the season, including seven rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He recorded his first three-touchdown game a few weeks ago and notched five total touchdowns in a two-game span.
Perhaps most impressive, however, is the fact that, in his 359 touches on the year, Bell hasn’t put the ball on the ground a single time all year. In fact, throughout his two-year career, he has only fumbled the ball once in 648 touches. Nobody else with at least 200 touches this season has been able to avoid turning the ball over at least once.