ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Le’Veon Bell’s peculiar first season with the Jets ended on Sunday with an outing in keeping with his erratic usage and mediocre production.
In the first half of a 13-6 victory over the Bills at New Era Field, Bell rushed 12 times for 45 yards and caught four passes. Not terrible.
In the second half, he rushed four times for minus-4 yards and caught one pass.
When asked about how he was used by coach Adam Gase, Bell said, “It doesn’t matter. We won the game, so that’s all that matters.”
But his tone and body language suggested that he was not entirely pleased.
Thrice this decade Bell rushed for more than 1,200 yards with the Steelers before sitting out 2018 in a contract dispute. The Jets signed him to a four-year, $52.5-million contract, but Gase has used him inconsistently.
He finished with 245 rushes for 789 yards – a 3.2-yard average – and three touchdowns and caught 66 passes for 461 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s been a different season; that’s all I can really say about it,” Bell said of his lower-than-usual production.
Asked to elaborate, he noted that he did not gain 1,000 yards.
“I mean, it’s disappointing,” he said. “Obviously, that’s like a marker that every running back kind of sets it to, (gaining) a thousand yards. But it didn’t happen this year. I just have to work harder and get better for next year.”
ESPN reported that Gase and Bell met privately in the visiting locker room before reporters entered. Gase would not be drawn into a detailed discussion with reporters about why he went away from Bell in the second half.
“We were just trying to play everybody,” he said. “I mean, I wouldn’t look into that too much. He had 26 touches or something (actually 21).”
The Jets could try to unload Bell in the offseason, but his contract could make that difficult.
Bell has been careful not to complain publicly and said he wants to be part of the Jets’ future. “I look forward to the offseason and obviously getting better and getting in crazy shape and building on what we got,” he said.
But he would not commit to doing that building with his teammates during voluntary offseason activities, which he mostly skipped last offseason.
“I mean, we’ll see,” he said. “Of course, I’m always going to consider it, but it depends on where I’m at in my training and how I’m feeling.”
Bell, 27, said he mostly was just happy to be playing again.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “Football is a game that I love. I’m glad that I was able to come back and finish the season, get to the offseason healthy. I look forward to next year and building on what I did this year.”