As if you needed any more proof that Le’Veon Bell is the best back in the league. Apparently, the league still does.
Pro Football Focus noted Bell graded out as the league’s top short yardage back, defined as needing three or fewer yards for a first down/touchdown. According to the graphic they made, over 91% of his rushing yards in those situations came after contact.
No running back was better in short yardage situations last season than @L_Bell26 pic.twitter.com/xF4jTb8vWl
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 28, 2017
Using Pro Football Reference’s Play Index, Bell had 34 carries with three or fewer yards to go last season. He converted 25 of those, a 73.5% success rate. For comparison’s sake, DeAngelo Williams had a 69.2% conversion rate last season.
It’s Bell’s patience and size that makes him a tough runner to get down. And of course, a lot of credit goes to the offensive line, who have been taught to hold onto double-teams longer than usual to accommodate Bell’s stop-start style.
On every short yardage run last year, the Steelers converted 73% of the time. That ranked second in the league, only trailing – oddly enough – the New Orleans Saints’ 75%. On the other end of the spectrum were the Denver Broncos. They came in last, converting 49% of the time. Be grateful for this offensive line. And Le’Veon Bell. Few are able to keep drives alive like them.