The Steelers ended the 2018 season out of the playoffs, for the 1st
time over 4 years. Some feel if Le’Veon Bell was on the field this
year, the Steelers would have made the playoffs. Maybe they wouldn’t
have tied the Browns in week 1 with Bell – maybe they wouldn’t have
lost to the Raiders either. But realistically, we don’t know. Maybe
Ben would have tried to make a boneheaded throw into the endzone vs
the Browns and lost the game there. As he already was having a poor
game with a 56% completion rate and 3 picks. It is easy to speculate,
we all do, but Le’Veon Bell has also played poorly vs Oakland in the
past, maybe he would have done nothing again. Maybe Le’Veon runs for
his 30 yrds and coughs one up?
Many people think Bell could have taken Pittsburgh Steelers to the
Bowl, but it was not because they didn’t have Bell, they had so many
other serious issues rather than just not having Bell on the field.
James Conner did just fine, with a 4.5 YPC, 55 catches, and 12 TDs, at
times, he looked even better than Bell. He put the ball on the field 4
times in the season, and some screamed about that. Hate to break it to
you, Bell also fumbled, with 3 in 2017 and 7 over the last 27 games,
it happens. We cant expect a guy running through a line of 340lb
strong men, hitting, slapping, pulling, and shoving then more
aggressive, fast and skilled men hitting them and punching the ball to
not put the ball on the ground sometimes.
It all comes down to the money (as always) – and Le’Veon Bell thinks
he is worth essentially double pay, because of what he brings to the
field in running and receiving. Seriously? There are a multitude of
great RBs who are awesome players, like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley,
and Alvin Kamara, who all churn out big numbers on the ground and in
the air. Le’Veon Bell you are just another talented RB, but nothing
out of the ordinary, he is a great RB, but to now expand and say that
you are a utility player so now should be paid like a mixture between
the 2 positions, I don’t think so. No one player is bigger than the
team, end of story.
James Conner was a great 3 down back all year with running the ball,
blocking and catching out of the backfield. He played hard, and
deserved all the accolades he got for what he put on the field.
Le’Veon Bell with his history, it isn’t all that unlikely he would
have gotten injured sometime through the season. He has missed an
average of 5 games/season since 2015 – either through injury or being
removed from playing. And now tack on another 16 games missed – simply
because he wanted more money. The question of love and his dedication
to the game has taken a firm hold of many.
Ben Roethlisberger led the league in picks, with 16 – tied for the 2nd
most in 15 seasons for Pittsburgh, and had a bunch of stupid and
mistimed horrendous red zone blunders. He seemed bored and lost at
times, which made him less dangerous and off with his chemistry with
his receivers as well. I think Ben and his bad play is just as much to
eat the blame for their letdown season, with 4 games of completing
less than 60% of his passes and 4 games with 2+ picks thrown. The
Steelers really needed to get some element of surprise this year. Most
teams knew they were passing the ball the vast majority of the time,
as they put the ball in the air around 66% of the time. As they ran 5
wide sets quite frequently.
The porous passing Steelers defense was a huge reason why they missed
the playoffs. Their 2 steps too slow secondary, with just 8 picks, and
giving up 27 TDs in the air could never hold things together.
Especially when facing playoff caliber teams like the Saints and the
Chiefs, where they gave up 313 and 322, and they gave up 31 and 42
points in each.
Truth is, Le’Veon Bell would not have gotten the Pittsburgh Steelers
to the playoffs. His skills on the field are great and his timey and
patient ability to run on the field is great to watch for a Pittsburgh
Steelers fan and as a football fan, but he wasn’t leading them to the
promised land. He would have been a tough threat to deal with on
offense, his extra catches out of the backfield would have been nice
to have, as he is a massive receiving threat, with 312 catches over 62
games, and a solid number of 8.5 YDs/catch, along with 7TDs in the
air. The Steelers didn’t have quite the same fear factor coming out
running routes this year with James Conner, but he did more than a
fine job in the backfield for Ben and company.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a whole lot more going on than just the
Le’Veon Bell situation. Between Ben Roethlisberger, terrible play
calling, Antonio Brown pouting on the sidelines, and who ever knew if
there DBs were going to show up. They have to figure some stuff out on
that team before thinking about SuperBowls anytime soon.