Le’Veon Bell hasn’t had much running room the first two weeks. But his outlook remains unchanged and he believes he’s close to busting off a big gainer.
“I’m due for an explosion play,” Bell told the PPG’s Ray Fittipaldo. “It hasn’t happened yet. I almost had like three today. I almost made one on a screen, a run. They made the play. We’re two games in. We’ll watch the film and get ready for next week.”
Of his 44 touches, only three of them have gone for 10+ yards with a long of 15. Only eight of those touches, less than 20%, have gained more than five. Needless to say, it’s been tough sledding for Bell and the run game.
Things did look better last week and the Steelers will have arguably their easiest test this Sunday when they take on the Chicago Bears. Their 3-4 front is something the Steelers practice against every day, unlike the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. That isn’t to say that it will be a cakewalk; the Bears do have stout DE Akiem Hicks, their run defense has performed well the first two weeks, and the Steelers could be without Marcus Gilbert.
Mike Tomlin said he wasn’t worried about the lack of explosion plays.
“The runner, the blocking,” he said at today’s press conference when asked what it takes to produce those kinds of runs. “We’re just going to continue to do what we’re doing. And know that if we do and stay committed the splash plays are going to come.”
Often times, it’s the second level blocks of the receivers that can make or break a good run into a great one.
“We’re doing a great job of getting hats on hats with our big people,” Tomlin said to open up his presser. “We need to continue to grow in terms of identifying the people we need to get blocked based on scheme on the perimeter…so that the six and eight yard run has the potential to be a 25 yard run. That’s an area of focus and potential area of needed growth as we push forward into this week.”
The Steelers are one of only six teams who don’t have a rush of 16 or more yards. Their 2.8 yards per carry is remarkably ranked tied for last in the NFL, held down by a lack of splash to shoot that number up. They’ll hope that tide changes come this weekend.