The New York Jets completed their 2019 season on a rare high note with a victory, but one player was considered a disappointment.
Le’Veon Bell was the major free agent signing that was supposed to push the New York Jets to another level of elite play. Instead of winning more games and preparing for the playoffs, New York is licking its wounds and strategizing for next season.
The former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro running back started the season strong and showed signs of brilliance within the Adam Gase offense. The season, however, was quickly derailed by the sudden sickness of starting quarterback Sam Darnold and his ineffective backup options. The lack of good quarterback play hurt Bell because defenses stacked the box, preparing for run plays with little fear of a Jets passing attack. Darnold’s return was unable to quickly right the ship since the team didn’t have enough time to mesh as a unit in his absence, putting Gase, Bell, and the defense at times in a bind.
The Jets signed Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million contract in March. He finished the 2019 season with 789 yards rushing on 245 carries and three touchdowns. The former Michigan State Spartan did not have a 100-yard rushing game all season. He only had 66 catches for 461 yards and one touchdown far below his high versatile expectations.
In Sunday’s season finale victory over the playoff-bound Buffalo Bills, Bell was used sparingly by Gase. He rushed for 41 yards on only 16 carries and instead of arguing the lack of touches, Bell addressed his season as a whole in the post-game press conference.
"“It don’t matter,” Bell said. “We won the game, so that’s all that matters.”"
"“It’s been a different season. That’s all I can say about it,” Bell said. “I didn’t break 1,000 yards. It’s disappointing. Obviously, that’s a marker that kind of every running back sets, to get 1,000 yards. It didn’t happen this year. I’ve just got to work harder to get better for next year.”"
The Jets will need to retool how they use Bell in 2020 or risk an ugly signing when his career in New York ends. Gase has managed to give the team some hope with a 7-9 record finishing strong, but next season needs to be successful, or his job will be on the line.