Film Room: Le’Veon Bell’s Pass Protection Solidifies His Value

Le’Veon Bell is the best back in the NFL. I hope you were sitting down for that declaration. His patience, underrated power, contact balance, ability out of the backfield. Watch any primetime game, and you’re in luck because there’s a metric ton of those up ahead, and that’s what will be highlighted.

But one area Bell excels in and gets little love for is his pass blocking. That was on full display in Thursday’s win over the Tennessee Titans. We’re going to check out a couple of those clips today.

The best example came on a play where Bell got rocked. But playing running back isn’t all about the glitz and the glam. It’s dirty, grimy. But Bell put his face in the fan to give Ben Roethlisberger enough time to get this pass off.

That is a decidedly unselfish play. That one hurt, Bell got run over, but it was required for the play to have a chance (and I’m mad at Martavis Bryant for not coming down with the football).

But it was one of several great plays Bell made in pass protection. Here’s a montage of them.

His ability to recognize blitzers, get square to his blocks, and execute is the cherry on the top of his elite game. Those are the things that, to me, make him elite. How well-rounded he is and his ability to play at a high level despite the heaviest workload in the NFL, both in touches and just as importantly, snap count.

Bell is still rocking a 90% snap count on the season, more than 10% than the next closest running back. If he remains at this pace for the rest of the year, and honestly, I hope he doesn’t, he’ll be the first back to play 90%+ of the time since Matt Forte in 2014.

That’s what is going to make him so tough to replace if and when he leaves (after 2018). Not just what he offers as a runner but everything else. It’ll take a village to replace him.

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.

  • Jaybird

    It’s pretty incredible how he always identifies the free blitzer in the first place. Great recognition followed by great execution.

  • Iulo

    yep… I would say, the same ability to identify the hole for runs… so, his play awareness is above average

  • hojo

    I imagine this is the reason why he is so tough to take out of games.

  • William Weaver

    The first example you showed illustrates just how confident Ben is in Bell’s ability. Guy rushes free right in his face and Ben KNEW Bell would handle it. That level of trust is vital for that play.

  • Nathanael Dory

    On that first gif Bryant HAD to make that play. No excuse there

  • Steve Johnson

    Ok Alex, do you think he’s worth $15M per season?

  • Steel Realist PAul

    His latest statement in his songs is that the price has gone up to $17M/yr.

  • srdan

    in pure entertainment value for me as a fan, yes, every penny. In the scheme of a team salary cap I have a harder time justifying it. i don’t think the step down from him to a geo bernard or someone is as great as many tmake it out to be. I’d rather sign a modest RB.

  • Alex Kozora

    I think the Steelers reported highest offer was very fair. It really doesn’t matter what I think though.

  • Sam Clonch

    Joe Mixon says he’s a better blocker.

  • WilliamSekinger

    In my mind, this is THE reason Bell will always be a cut above all other RBs in the league. Bell is the most complete back in the league. Some backs may come close in running ability, or ball security, or receiving ability but most all fall short in one area or another. Bell is great at all facets of the RB position.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Haha! Let’s ask him if he remembers a certain ILB named Vince Williams 😁

  • Steel Realist PAul

    “Imma need 17”
    – L. Bell rap video, Aug 30, 2017

    This is our last year with Bell.

  • D.j. Hoy

    Thank you Alex for doing an article on this. I thought this one of the top plays of the game, even though it went incomplete.

  • falconsaftey43

    They can tag him again for around $14M if they want.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I think that’s the assumption all around. But after Eric Berry held out and showed you can force a teams hand, and with Bell’s comments for his overall plans, you have to think he’s planning to take that road.

    And then, who knows.. hold out for the season? Trade? Steelers give in and pay him 17? Can’t see the last one happening.

  • NickSteelerFan

    Alex, do you worry about the physical wear and tear of blocking like this as much as running the ball? I’m always worried if he has 30+ touches in a game, but blocking like this can’t be easy on the body either.
    PS you’re right, he’s awesome at it!

  • Michael Putman

    Anyone still think Bell is a bum and we need to get rid of him? Bell is a complete back… an ALL DOWNS back. He can make the runs, he can make the catches and can make the blocks. He is worth an absurd amount of money, regardless if whether or not the Steelers pay him. If Ben retires this year, it makes sense to lock up an amazing talent to allow the next QB a better chance to be successful!

  • Alex Kozora

    No, I’m not worried about it. Most of the blocks aren’t as vicious as the one I GIF’d. Better than getting trampled by two 300 pounders.