Film Room: Le’Veon Bell Opens Game Up In Second Half

For whatever reason, we haven’t actually been devoting a whole lot of film room time to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Killer Bs this year. I’m working to amend that a bit. I looked at Ben Roethlisberger yesterday, and will do so for Antonio Brown tomorrow. Today is for Le’Veon Bell, looking at most of his plays of 10-plus yards and how he made them happen.

I’m not sure exactly what it means that they came in the second half, but as my six examples show, the running back was able to find more space, both on the ground and through the air, in the third and fourth quarters than he was in the first and second. Which is odd, considering the first quarter has been by far and away his best of the season overall.

Early in the third, facing a second and six, put simply, Bell made this play happen by moving the right inside linebacker with his eyes and feet. Taking a wide left initial route, he started to cut inside, moving the linebacker, which opened up the B gap around Ramon Foster for 11 yards.

Later in the quarter, out of the shotgun with two tight ends to the left and himself in the right sidecar, he checked out of the backfield and fielded a pass over the middle from Roethlisberger, quickly shaking a tackler and stepping through Kevin King, who only completed the tackle yards later when joined by other defenders after 12 yards in all.

Again through the air, this play began in quite similar fashion to the previous play. This time, he juked Pro Bowl safety HaHa Clinton-Dix and was able to get out to the left sideline for 15 yards.

A tip of the cap to Martavis Bryant here for his effort at the end of the run. Something he has been doing all season, even through his own frustrations. This is why his teammates have had his back and suggested surprise over his comments. It hasn’t shown outwardly, in the locker room or on the field.

Into the fourth quarter now, approaching midfield, Maurkice Pouncey helps make this play happen by opening up the A Gap, pushing the tackle over to Ramon Foster and then picking up the linebacker. Following his fullback, Bell got skinny and hit the hole for 14, his longest run of the night.

On the next possession, and at about the same field position—only this time second and 13—he got the ball on a screen pass out of the slot, first cutting to his right and then back to the inside of the field, a play they’ve run with success a couple of times. With a block from David DeCastro, the back was able to slip a tackle for 12 yards.

A play later, on third and one, the Steelers trusted their wide receivers to set the edge on a run off left end and they delivered. But Bell’s sharp cut upfield subsequently embarrassed King, the Packers’ rookie cornerback, enabling an 11-yard run.

So, yeah. Bell is not having his best season, in my opinion, a discussion that has introduced a lot of debate. But this was one of his best games of the season, featuring just one play on which he didn’t gain yardage, and an accumulation of 10-plus yard touches, not to mention a trail of flailing defenders hopelessly nipping at his ankles.

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