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Rex Ryan:Le'Veon Bell will be a one man wrecking crew for Jets

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Rex Ryan: Le’Veon Bell will be ‘one-man wrecking crew’ for Jets

March 13, 2019 | 8:47pm

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Rex Ryan and Le'Veon Bell
Rex Ryan and Le'Veon BellGetty Images; AP

Rex Ryan’s Bills were facing the Steelers in a late-season game in 2016. Ryan decided his game plan would be to take away Pittsburgh’s passing game. He knew Le’Veon Bell would gain some yards against his defense. He never counted on how many.

“He beat me to sleep,” the former Jets coach said Wednesday. “He was a one-man wrecking crew. He kicked our ass from the first play of the game to the last. Does he make a difference? Oh my God, does he make a difference. I would have killed to have somebody like this.”

Bell ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns against Ryan’s Bills that day in a 27-20 win for the Steelers. He also caught four passes for 62 yards. It was that memory that came back to Ryan when asked about just what the Jets have in their new star running back.

“He’s going to be great. The guy’s a phenomenal player,” Ryan said. “Paying a running back … whatever. You’re paying a great football player. How do you make a young quarterback better? You build a running game around him. He’s going to get eight-man spacing, which is easier to throw against. It’s a great move. I think Jets fans have to be excited about this one.”

Ryan was not the only one throwing bouquets in the Jets’ direction on Wednesday. Their decision to sign Bell to a four-year, $52.5 million deal was widely praised by people around the NFL

After Bell sat out the 2018 season, there was some question about what Bell would get in free agency. Some argued against paying a running back big bucks when cheaper alternatives can be available at the position.

The Jets were committed to not overpaying Bell or letting him use them to drive up the price. They felt they made him a strong offer. After linebacker Anthony Barr reneged on his agreement with the Jets on Tuesday afternoon, the Jets sweetened their offer to Bell a little but told him it was their final offer. As the day wore on, the Jets told him they would not wait forever for him to make a decision, but they did not give him a firm deadline.

All along the Jets were considered the most serious suitor for Bell. ESPN reported the 49ers made a late bid, but Bell chose the Jets just after midnight on Wednesday morning.

Free agency is always a gamble. Players become free agents for a reason. But this was a gamble the Jets needed to take. They needed to boost their offense after years of drafting poorly. They needed to give Sam Darnold some talent around him as he enters his second year. General manager Mike Maccagnan needed to make a bold move after watching his team win 14 games over the last three seasons.

Bell gives the Jets all that and more. This is an offensive weapon the Jets have not had since at least Brandon Marshall and maybe even Curtis Martin.

It is easy to get bogged down in the arguments about contracts and whether Bell made a mistake by sitting out an entire season. There are concerns about how much tread he has left on the tire after his heavy usage in Pittsburgh and he has been suspended twice.


What is undeniable, though, is Bell’s talent. The Jets landed the best available free agent and one of the best players in football. He is a free agent because of a contract standoff, not because of a dip in productivity or age or injuries. Two years ago, he ran for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 85 passes for 655 yards. The Jets have not had a rusher gain 1,291 yards since Thomas Jones in 2009. They have not had a player catch 85 passes since Marshall in 2015.

This stat speaks to Bell’s ability: He is No. 1 in NFL history in average yards from scrimmage per game with 129.0 yards per game. The second person on the list is Jim Brown at 125.5.

He will take pressure off Darnold. Ryan compared it to his early Jets teams with Mark Sanchez.

“It would be like having Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene on steroids,” Ryan said. “When I had the rookie quarterback … shoot, we’d still be playing if we had Le’Veon Bell. Nobody would have stopped us. I think that’s the kind of impact this kid could have.”


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1 minute ago, HighPitch said:

Rex was better than kotite herm and bowles

There's some good trivia buried in there.  Name the two Jets Head Coaches to beat Peyton Manning in the playoffs.....one even shut him out!

That's still crazy when you think about it.


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38 minutes ago, New York Mick said:

Shouldn’t he be coaching somewhere? He released five different teams he was going to. 

Must be difficult to get letters of recommendation when you got all your previous employers fired

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41 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

If anyone knows about single-handedly wrecking the Jets, it’s Rex 

He inherited a great OLine that rex quickly ignored and went to crap. I think we led league in rushing in 09 and 10? Even without a decent rb. Bell would have rushed for 2k with that OL, he will be lucky to get 1k with mac’s Oline ha

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Leveon bell is exactly what Sam Darnold and the Jets need


The Browns’ blockbuster trade for Odell Beckham Jr. on Tuesday eveningovershadowed the most anticipated signing of the NFL’s thrilling free-agency period. Shortly after the Beckham deal was reported, the Jets won the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes, locking up the dynamic running back with a four-year deal worth up to $61 million, with $35 million guaranteed. And while much of the immediate discussion centered on whether Bell’s year-long holdout was ultimately worthwhile, less attention was paid to the impact the former Steeler can have on the Jets offense and its still-developing quarterback, Sam Darnold. As Beckham does for Baker Mayfield, Bell brings the ability to instantly make Darnold’s job easier, taking pressure off of the sophomore passer with his rare ability to tilt the field in both the run and pass game. The Jets still have a ways to go to build a contender, but the Bell signing is a big step toward giving the 21-year-old Darnold the type of supporting cast he needs.

It’s been more than a year since we’ve last seen him on the field, so it’s easy to forget that Bell is a transcendent talent and playmaker. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound back has a unique style as a runner, mixing extraordinary patience with speed, power, decisiveness, and explosive burst through the hole. Bell’s idiosyncratic hesitation behind the line of scrimmage would typically be billed as a negative at the position, but his ability to decipher the running lanes opening up in front of him in real time is what separates him from so many other rushers. It’s almost like he’s timing his jump into double dutch, and when he sees his moment, he makes his move.

That vision and understanding of how the defense is flowing in relation to his blocking helps not just at the line of scrimmage, but at the second level, too.

Assuming he reports to camp this fall in game shape, Bell is more than just a reliable volume runner who can bring stability to a New York backfield that’s seen a different leading rusher in each of the past four seasons and is now being helmed by a new coach in Adam Gase. More importantly, the 27-year-old brings to the Jets ground game his distinctive ability to create something out of nothing. He’s powerful and elusive, and regularly ranked among the league leaders in both yards after contact and missed tackles forced in his time in Pittsburgh. Bell has broken 290 tackles on 1,631 career touches, per Pro Football Focus—and ranks third in the NFL in missed tackles forced on runs (214) since he came into the league in 2013. That’s pretty incredible considering he didn’t play at all last year, and missed 10 games in 2015, four games in 2016, and a game in 2017.

But running backs in the modern era can’t live up to big-money deals on their running ability alone, and Bell is a major factor in the passing attack. Bell is perhaps the most dynamic pass-catching running back of this generation, a natural route-runner with the ball skills of a receiver and extraordinary run-after-the-catch elusiveness. Bell leads the NFL in yards after the catch at the running back position since 2014—again, that’s after missing 31 of a possible 80 games in that timeframe. Bell has soft hands and the instincts to make the first tackler miss, something seen on this play from the 2017 season:

Bell is a massive upgrade as a runner over both Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, and is much more dynamic in the passing game than either. He gives Darnold a big-play creator even on simple dump-offs—which are typically thought of in a negative light, but will likely still be a big part of Darnold’s repertoire in 2019. According to ESPN, Darnold finished last in the NFL in completion percentage (62.9) on throws between 1 and 10 yards downfield as a rookie, but Bell’s ability to create mismatches in the passing game in that area is where he could make a major impact. Defenses must now decide how they’re going to line up against New York: Do they bring in a safety or corner to help keep up with Bell and weaken their run defense? Or do they simply match up with a linebacker and take their chances in coverage? Bell’s left a long line of linebackers in the dust on two-way go routes up the middle in his career.

Bell on a football field is like a queen on a chessboard. He’s one of only a few backs capable of lining up on the wing, running vertical routes, and elevating to catch deep passes like this:

Bell’s price tag certainly comes as a shock for some—especially in a league that’s seen most running backs relegated to fungible status. In an already-good offense with an established quarterback, this deal wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense; but for New York, Bell’s ability to create for himself in both the passing attack and the run game could make him worth the investment. With Darnold locked into his rookie deal, New York can afford the luxury of paying top dollar to add a security blanket for the still-developing signal-caller. Combined with deals for offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, slot receiver Jamison Crowder, and the long-term extension for Quincy Enunwa, the Jets offense—which ranked 28th in pass DVOA and 30th in rush DVOA last year—appears to be moving in the right direction. Bell could be at the center of a big jump in 2019.

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2 minutes ago, Gastineau Lives said:

Do I wear my Steelers jersey?

If I had one shot to go back in time, it wouldn’t be to kill Baby Hitler; it’d be to go back to the ESPNZone and let @faba get his ******* ass beat in by that monster Steelers guy. But nooooooo

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21 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

If I had one shot to go back in time, it wouldn’t be to kill Baby Hitler; it’d be to go back to the ESPNZone and let @faba get his ******* ass beat in by that monster Steelers guy. But nooooooo

Yes if you went back in time to that day, that is what you would do. Definitely, lol.

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I was hoping those rumors of Rex coaching the U at Miami were true.  He would be perfect for college and have a chance to rebuild his career.  No way he shouldn't have a D coordinator job in the NFL.

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2 hours ago, jetstream23 said:

There's some good trivia buried in there.  Name the two Jets Head Coaches to beat Peyton Manning in the playoffs.....one even shut him out!

That's still crazy when you think about it.


Rex has the Jets a few yards from going to the Super Bowl  - remember that game against Pittsburgh. He brought the Jets to not 1 but 2 championship games. Rex is actually the second best Jet head coach EVER! He got screwed with less and less talent mostly his own fault for drafting so poorly but with our current O line Rex doesn’t win 6 games. Mac had better improve this O line or this team is going nowhere fast.

oh and off the top of my head I would say the other coach is Herm.

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Lost in the Rex bashing is the stat about yards from scrimmage at 129 per game! That sh*t be real. When your #1 in ANYTHING in this league with the greats that have passed through its impressive. When the guy that your ahead of is the great Jim Brown? at 125.5 scrimmage yards per game, I say WELCOME LE'VEON! 

I still can't believe we got this guy for 4 million less than Mo Wilkerson, or Trey Flowers, lol. But people here still be bitching.

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