PHILADELPHIA — Le’Veon Bell finished the first quarter against the Eagles on Sunday with five carries for 10 yards and four receptions for 32.
At that point, the rest of the Jets had no rushes and no receptions for no yards.
The overreliance on their highly paid back illustrated the lack of options available to coach Adam Gase with quarterback Sam Darnold out and the line in full meltdown mode.
How did Bell feel about it?
“It’s football,” he said after finishing with 15 rushes for 43 yards and seven catches for 45 in a 31-6 loss at Lincoln Financial Field. “I play football. I enjoy it. I love playing. So no matter who [the defense] focused on or whatever it is, it’s football.
“So any opportunity I get a chance to make a play, I’ve got to make the play. I think I could have played better today.”
Bell has said and done the right things since joining the Jets on a four-year, $52 million contract after sitting out all of 2018 in a contract dispute with the Steelers.
But with Darnold out the past three games, defenses have been able to focus their attention on Bell. And why not? The Jets’ first two plays Sunday were runs by Bell, for a total of 1 yard.
Bell scored the Jets’ first offensive touchdown of the season in the opener. It took until the fourth quarter of their fourth game to score another, a 19-yard run by Vyncint Smith, recently signed off the Texans’ practice squad.
Bell insists the Jets are “close” and “on the brink,” but there were few signs of that here.
“Right now, everybody has to look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘We have to get better,’ ” he said.
Bell praised the defense for playing well Sunday, even as the offense frequently put it in tough spots by not mustering long possessions.
“Guys played hard, but playing hard is not enough in this league,” Bell said. “You have to be able to do the small things right.”
Bell was the target, as usual, in the first quarter when the Jets’ Luke Falk was intercepted by Nathan Gerry, who returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. (The Eagles’ defense outscored the Jets’ offense, 14-6.)
“It [stinks] at the time,” Bell said, “but at that time, it was 13-0 when they scored and it was in the first quarter, so I’m thinking, ‘OK, that’s fine, they got their little play, but we’re going to be able to fight back into it.’ ”
No such luck.
“It is what it is; it’s football,” he said. “There have been times where I played for other offenses and we struggled, too.’’
Bell noted that in his rookie season in 2013, the Steelers started 0-4. They won their fifth game, over the Jets, and went on to finish 8-8.
“Once we get better on offense, we’ll look like a totally different team,” Bell said. “We’ll get it turned around.
“I just don’t know what day or what game or what mark it’s going to be or what’s going to do it, but I know we’re going to find some way to get this ship sailing in the right direction.”