Le’Veon Bell went from a winless team to the Super Bowl champs, and he will face the Jets real soon.
The former Jets running back is signing with Kansas City. The Jets released Bell on Tuesday in a stunning move that paved the way for him to land in a far better situation.
In a tweet on Thursday, Bell thanked Kansas City for the opportunity.
The Jets will face Bell and Kansas City on Nov. 1 at Arrowhead Stadium. Bell surely will have some extra juice that game to show that he’s better than he was in Adam Gase’s offense.
Bell was frustrated after being targeted just once in Sunday’s loss to Arizona. He met with Gase and general manager Joe Douglas. They tried to trade him, but when nothing materialized, the Jets waived him.
When Gase was asked why he couldn’t get more out of Bell and whether he misused him, he said, "It’s irrelevant at this point." Gase also evaded a question regarding whether Bell can still be a productive back.
"We’ll see what happens," Gase said.
The Jets will see in two weeks in Kansas City. But they’ve moved on, and are expected to feature rookie back La’Mical Perine more now.
Perine, who didn’t play one snap on offense last game, should be the player that benefits the most from Bell’s exit.
Veteran Frank Gore will still get a certain amount of touches. But the Jets want to see what the 22-year-old Perine can do with a heavy workload, and whether he can be a big part of their future.
He looks at it as "a challenge." Perine’s time begins Sunday in Miami.
"I’m excited," Perine said on a Zoom call on Thursday. "I’m not going to sit here and lie like I’m not excited. I just don’t want to get too excited because excitement could come with being very nervous.
"I want to keep my composure and be able to go out there and focus and play ball."
The Jets selected Perine in the fourth round, and were excited about his explosiveness and ability to break away from the pack. Perine showed that during training camp. But then he suffered an ankle injury at the end of August.
Perine had to work his way on the field and into Adam Gase’s game plan. He played in the three games that Bell missed when he was on IR, totaling 55 yards on 17 touches. But now he’s going to get "plenty of opportunity," Gase said.
"I feel like he’s in a good spot," Gase said. "I feel like we know how to use him. His skill set, there’s a lot of things he can do. There’s an explosiveness there. We’ve seen him take it to the house from 80 yards. That speed’s real."
Perine could be a three-down back, although he’s caught just two passes this season for minus-1 yard. At Florida, he led the Gators to an Orange Bowl victory, totaling 181 scrimmage yards with three touchdowns.
The Jets could use any burst or boost they can get. They’re 0-5 and have been the least productive and efficient offense in football.
"I don’t want to put too much on this kid yet," offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. "We need to figure out exactly what he is. He needs to go out and play with the role that we give him.
"He needs, like all young players, to maximize his opportunity this week."
Gore, 37, leads the Jets in touches (66) and rushing yards (204). Gase said Gore knows "the right amount of touches" for him. Gore averaged 17 in the three games that Bell missed. He said he’ll do whatever Gase wants, but he knows Perine will be featured more.
"I know we have young guys in this room that can help this team," Gore said. "Whenever I’m on the field and how many touches they want to give me I’ll be ready for it."
Perine said Bell was one of his favorite backs growing up and he learned a lot from him. But Gore has been a tremendous leader for Perine. He’s in the rookie’s ear all the time.
According to Perine, every Wednesday Gore goes over video of every play in games and practice with him and makes sure he’s as prepared as he can be.
Gore also told Perine to remember where he was drafted and use that as motivation. The sixth running back taken in 2005, Gore said he worked hard to prove he was better than all of them. Gore said Perine, who was the 10 back taken this year, should follow his lead.
"Once you get your opportunity you got to take advantage of it," Gore said. "Now he’s got an opportunity to be out there more. He’s in a good situation. He’s out there working hard. It’s just got to carry over to the game."
Perine believes he’s ready.
"You just got to take advantage of every opportunity," he said. "Come out here and just play the best I can, just do my thing. I’m here for a reason. I always tell myself that. Just go day by day and just handle my business."