A few weeks back, in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final game heading into their bye week, they managed to rack up 10 penalties, most of them on the offensive side of the ball. One of them even took a touchdown off the board.
Two weeks later, with two weeks to potentially clean things up, the Steelers managed to be penalized 13 times on Sunday in their loss to the Ravens, again, with the majority of the penalties falling on the offensive side of the ball. With three false starts, an illegal formation, and a delay of game penalty, there was lots of sloppiness and blame to go around.
And that poor showing recently has not sat well with anybody on the team, especially on the offense, where the majority of the penalties have come from. But some have been more vocal than others, including running back Le’Veon Bell, who earlier this week said that he was not surprised by the sloppy penalties because the team has been having sloppy practices.
And now he is looking to do his part to help curb the problem. According to Aditi Kinkhabwala, left guard Ramon Foster told her yesterday that Bell is taking on a sort of leadership role during the team’s practices this week.
Kinkhabwala Tweeted yesterday that, according to Foster, “Bell has been at the forefront of making sure folks [practice better]”. You may be thinking that that should be the coaches’ jobs to take care of that and making sure that the players are practicing well. Bell had something to say about that, too.
“There’s nothing magical a coach can say”, Bell told Kinkhabwala. “It takes players to reach out to teammates and help them get that urgency”. Personally, I don’t particularly care what is required of a particular team to accomplish that objective, as long as it ends up getting done.
If Bell wants to take the mantle, even temporarily, to try to get on his teammates to make sure that they are taking practices as seriously as they need to be to make sure that they are ready for the game and to clean up some of the unnecessary penalties that have been hamstringing the offense the past couple of weeks, then I am certainly going to be supportive of that.
Coaches can do a lot of things for a team, there is no doubt about that. That is, after all, their job, and why their job exists in the first place. But there is an aspect of what Bell says that gets at a truth about the topic. Coaches can only reach players to a certain extent. Players connect with their teammates on a different level.
Seeing Bell take the helm and try to make sure that he and his teammates are having productive practices sends a different message to players than seeing a coach try to do that. Coaches are supposed to do that. For a player to do it, it shows a higher level of commitment and ownership that can be infectious.