Le’Veon Bell Confident He’s Close To Producing Splash Plays

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.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • srdan

    I know everyone is saying it’s the preseason rust, I’m starting to worry that those surgeries have caught up to him. I see the hesitation still, but not the burst.

  • colingrant

    He knows Chicago’s next. 🙂 Just kiddin

  • falconsaftey43

    Interesting stat: There are 15 RBs with 30+ carries so far in the season. Only 4 of them have managed to average 4.0 ypc or better. That’s kinnd of crazy. Seems a lot of rushing attacks aren’t going well so far. Only 9 of 29 guys with 20+ carries are at 4.0.

  • Nathanael Dory

    Exactly what i was saying. That screen play is a 20+ yards gainer of that was 2015 Bell

  • pittfan

    Time will tell whether or not it’s rust or the effects of injury but I didn’t think he looked in top form the previous week or against the Vikes. I think he’ll get better as we move along. Be careful though, don’t wanna be called a hater!

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Zeke E had less than 10 yards this week. Let’s not get too worked up. To me he looked real close and the Viking D is stout. O usually takes a while to gel against real time defense that have game planned against you. IMHO he will be fine.

  • Ichabod

    I sure wish we could see number 30 rush for a series or two. It makes no sense to give Bell 27 carries and Conner only one…and it went for 9 yards

  • pittsburghjoe

    probably rust, too early to tell though. fine with me either way… they can cut bait if he is damaged goods.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Yeah and he hit the hole a heckuva lot quicker than Bell does. I know Bell is patient, but where is the burst? Haven’t seen it yet. Is he out of shape, or has he lost a step?

  • Steeler-Drew

    I think if we are still talking about his bust not be the same or being a step slow after game 4 there is cause for some concern. It appeared he didn’t have the same burst a few times when he decided to hit the hole. As mentioned I thought the Bell from previous years would have not been tackled on the dump off. He also appeared to be a step slow on the one run where he tried to turn the corner. Hopefully he is still kicking off the rust and it’s nothing more than that.

  • Kevin Schwartz

    1) I think he’ll be fine. He looked like he hadn’t played football in months in Game 1, and he looked like he was just getting used to playing football again in week 2. In other words, I think there was definitely an impact from missing camp, but, we’re 2-0 so I’m not gonna complain.

    2) He’s still really, really good, and people talking about getting rid of him next year to stick it to him for turning down a reasonable offer, or because they think Connor’s better are nuts. If he’s too expensive, so be it. He’s not worth 15 million or whatever. But, if we can get him for a reasonable price, I would make the deal in a second. He’s a special, special talent.

  • Paul Rainey

    Not a hater, just a realist. He is a self absorbed diva that is all about himself. We can’t afford to lose players just to pay him. Case in point, Saints who caved to Brees wanting to be highest paid and they have been losers since because they can’t pay others. Bell wants paid as best running back and #2 receiver and hasn’t performed as good as rookie running backs or taxi squad receivers. Cut bait.

  • David Shoff

    I thought that bell looked a little sluggish in the first two games. I really hope that this is because of the time he missed. We will find out soon enough.