Le’Veon Bell Learns That Patience Is A Virtue

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By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers back in April believed that they selected their new running back in the form of Le’Veon Bell in the most recent NFL Draft; they got their first true sample of what he will bring to the table this past week in the team’s victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Although he had some success in his first game against the Minnesota Vikings—which included scoring two touchdown, certainly nothing to sneeze at—it was not until this past game that many of Bell’s skills as a runner were really put on display for all to see. Most impressive of those features is his patience.

I wrote of his performance the week prior against the New York Jets and cautioned that he struggled because he was not putting enough trust in himself and his blockers and running impatiently, and that when he learns to do that, he is going to turn into a talented player. Turns out it would only take another week for that to come out. Take the following play for example, early in the game.

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Bell displays a veteran sense of patience here after realizing that the play as designed is not going to take shape. Instead, he waits for an alternative avenue to develop, which is eventually provided by David DeCastro. It initially appears as though Bell should have his selection between either A Gap, but neither fully develop, and Bell wisely bides his time without fully committing.

Once DeCastro gets his man turned, Bell squirts around the corner for a nice gain. He took what the play gave him and did not leave yards on the field, as was also the case on the first play of the next drive.

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The blocking scheme really hits its stride here, providing Bell with a clear path to take for a good gain. But he also shows some football intelligence by taking the cut inside the block of Marcus Gilbert rather than staying on the outside, which may well have earned him a few extra yards. There were times, however, where he had to work more for his yards, as on the first play of the second quarter.

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I really like this play because it does a good job of showcasing Bell’s understanding of tempo and timing. He shows his savvy by holding back a tick, as it takes a moment for DeCastro to release from his double team block and take on Jameel McClain. At the same time, he also has to follow the block of Will Johnson.

Once he gets that sliver of an alley, however, he turns on the jets and he lowers the boom on safety Matt Elam for a solid nine-yard gain. By that same token, however, Bell also has the wherewithal to realize when he already has just about all he is going to get, as on this late third quarter carry.

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Here Bell is able to play the ball close to the line until the last moment, when he springs it outside and cuts in between the blocks of his tight ends, Heath Miller and, yes, David Paulson. Thanks to their blocks on the perimeter, Bell is able to put the Steelers in second and three at the four-yard line. It really is a shame that the Steelers failed to get the ball in the end zone at the end of this drive, which ultimately played a role in allowing the Ravens to tie the game.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Xclewsive

    Bell possesses enough speed, power, agility, patiences, vision and understanding to be a great RB.

  • Nolrog

    I agree with the vision. He seems to see the field well and is able to break towards the hole. I’m not sure the other RBs have this ability.

  • r4kolb

    You’re not sure the other running backs have this ability? I guarantee you they don’t!

  • dkoy85

    r4kolb I nearly sh!t the bed from laughter when I read Nolrog’s comment and not just the part you highlighted but the “I agree with the vision” part too! Like he doesnt see the other qualities Xclewsive highlighted! Maybe he has a hard time picking up on things? Or maybe he didnt catch the game and only saw these gifs and his computer is running slow and the gifs are skipping at a frustrating pace so he didnt get to see Bells true skill set and therefore came to the conclusion the only skill Bell posesses is vision and therfore decided he would post some really head scratching comment? Excuse me while I go whipe me a$$…

  • r4kolb

    There are 2 questions to ask ourselves. 1…Is our “O” line blocking better as the season goes on? 2…Does LeVeon just make our “O” line look good by his ability to see the field/hole and pick up positive yardage? Of course there is the proverbial 3rd option which is all of the above. He definitely has quick feet and always seems to get positive yardage. I’d be curious as to how many times he has been tackled for a loss. Not many I’d think.

  • r4kolb

    To clarify. I wasn’t taking a shot at Nolrog, I was just pointing out the obvious. So Nolrog please remove the down vote you gave me.

  • johnhoien

    So glad they took him over Lacey.. So much more you can do w/ a versatile back… We may even see him throw from a wild cat -as he was a high school qB … Pretty cool,

  • Mike Carroll

    Matthew, you seem to have been right on about Bell’s need for patience in the Jets game. I just re-read your review for the Jets game and that first GIF shows a big difference in how Bell ran last vs this week.

    It seems the the early use of the wildcat against the Ravens really helped engage Bell’s patience and open up his vision across the entire line. After those few plays he settled into the game nicely.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    So on draft day I am telling my Dolphin’s fan buddy that This guy named Leveon Bell is amazing and perhaps the Fins should take him. For a big man with power he has surprisingly quick feet, both laterally and acceleration. He says, so why don’t the Steelers take him. I said no way they’ll do that as they have so many other needs. I was exstatic when it actually happened.

    Let’s give credit to the O-line as on some runs he is untouched 3 yards down the field. At that point a runner has some speed so there’s no telling what might happen, even very long runs.

    Next, he does have the patience to delay that half second which is sometimes just enough to create a tiny lane he can squeeze through or power through. Of course, he is quick enough to change direction and get a few yards if there is nothing there.

    Now here’s the kicker. When he gets out in the open he does not instantly think touchdown. If he sees defenders closing from 2 different sides, he instinctively covers up the ball with 2 hands and runs lower to try to prevent from fumbling or being stripped on contact. and that, my friends is a beautiful thing to see. The long touchdowns will eventually come.

    Bravo, young man!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Wouldnt want to take anything away from Le’Veon but these Gif’s show’s how far this O line has come. There were some big holes for Bell to run through. Bell’s running abilities are impressive and he will only get better. Rounding out to be a great pick

  • Matthew Marczi

    There really is no question that the blocking has improved. We’ve been watching all season. ;) DeCastro played the best game of his career to the point where the Steelers are starting to run the ball through him. Velasco is settling in more and more every week, as is Foster, and we all saw what Whimper was able to do stepping in. Now, whether they maintain this against better defenses, that remains to be seen…

  • charles

    Haley has done an incredible job getting his Jamaal Charles look alike. He and Bicknell are transforming this offense from Jerome Bettis smash mouth football to high octane scoring machine. Bell will soon get his 1500 yds and absent injury Ben has his best years ahead….

  • alex

    feet man, feet…its like hes runnin’ ona hot plate…

  • r4kolb

    Well if we all agree the blocking is getting better then I guess here is another good question….do you resign Velasco and look to maybe move Pouncey to Left Tackle? If not it definitely affords us the opportunity to have some quality depth on the “O” line next year. That being based on the fact they continue to grow and get better.

  • r4kolb

    Funny you say that. I was just thinking I want to see him take a long run to the house. Not sure he has that king of speed though.

  • Johnny Loose

    Very exciting to watch this offense forming the identity we’ve wanted for so long. Smash mouth football is on its way. Sooner than later. #STEELERS

  • Fr33th1nk3r

    He’s only had 1 run for negative yardage so far. That in itself is a nice change– I was used to seeing Steelers’ RBs get stoned behind the line at least a few times a game.
    This kid has great vision and even better footwork– unless he self-destructs in some typically NFL-way in a strip club, he’s gonna be something special.