This may come to you as a shock, so you may want to brace yourself for this: a running back thinks that his team should run the ball more often.
To add a twist to the equation, this particular running back also seems to view himself as a wide receiver as well. And he had 10 receptions in the game that he is referring to, in which he had 15 carries, while the offense threw the ball 55 times.
Of course I’m talking about Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, and you’ve probably already read or heard about some or all of his comments that he made yesterday. We told you yesterday that he confirmed the Steelers’ gameplan was never to run the ball down the throats of the league’s lowest-ranked defense.
That was the plan the week before, but according to Ben Roethlisberger, the offense more guided its early play-calling based on what the defense was presenting them, which was a lot of single-high safety looks that made throwing the ball tempting to them. Of course, after they were trailing, that exacerbated the pass-run imbalance.
But Bell—who averaged more rushes per game than anybody in the league a year ago—sees the value in a run-heavy offense that can pay dividends in the long run. After all, the Steelers went on a nine-game winning streak in the second half of last season after they turned the ball over to the running game.
“I think that is just the formula for winning”, he told reporters when asked why he felt the Steelers did not get enough carries.
“The Jaguars ran the ball a lot of times. You see over the course of the game it wearing down the defense”, he went on. “Running the ball shortens the game, opens the offense, makes passing the ball easier, and it gets you in third and manageable downs”.
Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. His first two carries, for example, went for four and minus-two yards, setting up third and eight on the team’s first drive. He gained two yards and then one on first- and second-down runs in another drive that set up a third and seven. On a second and 10, he gained zero yards.
But he does have a point, and we can even see it on the opposite side of the field. The Jaguars didn’t have consistent success running the ball, but it got more effective as the game went on. They ran a 12-play drive late in the game on which every play was a run, and it ate eight minutes of the game clock.
“I felt like there was room there”, he said of the Jaguars’ defense, against which he gained 47 yards on the ground on his 15 carries. “I felt like there was air. The stats don’t really show what happened. Some runs we lost yards, but I feel like we were running the ball effectively”.