End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Le’Veon Bell
Position: Running Back
Experience: 2 Years
While Le’Veon Bell certainly showed a lot of promise during his rookie season in 2013 as a potential running back that could do everything, I don’t believe anybody could have reasonably predicted just how much he would improve from his second season.
As a rookie, he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, but he finished his sophomore year as an All-Pro. That’s certainly a steep upward trajectory, and the fact of the matter is that there is still meat left on that bone for Bell to get even better.
Throughout Bell’s second season, it seemed that he went through periods of showing off different traits. He has a couple of spurts of excellent showings on the ground game, then did the same through the air. Late in the season, he showed off his knack for getting into the end zone, which had been lacking in the Steelers’ pass-heavy offense earlier in the year.
If Bell could manage to maintain excellence in all three of those areas consistently, then he could very well find himself becoming the unquestioned best running back in the entire league. While his 11 total touchdowns in 2014 was nothing to sneeze at, for example, it’s certainly a figure that he could continue to improve.
Perhaps the greatest concern facing him in the future, however, is actually finding a way to get him off the field. Tomlin has made the mistake of running a back until the wheels fall off in the past, and by the end of the season, Bell rarely ever even came off the field.
Admittedly, the injury that he suffered in the season finale had nothing to do with workload and was just a freak type of play. But while he is still young, he will eventually wear down, and the Steelers haven’t really had a viable number two behind him yet in his career.
Bell averaged 4.7 yards per carry while rushing nearly 300 times. He caught over 80 receptions for over 800 yards. And he didn’t put the ball on the ground a single time all year. Realistically, it’s almost hard to imagine that his ceiling could be much higher. What next is on the horizon? A 1000-yard rushing, 1000-yard receiving season?