FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Le’Veon Bell’s disappointing first season in green and white is nearing an end, and there has been speculation that his Jets career could be doing the same.
But Bell said he has no regrets about leaving the Steelers and signing with the Jets. He expected there to be some growing pains, but he said he hopes to see it through and be a Jet when things are better.
“I don’t regret anything that happened,” Bell said after Thursday’s practice. “I’m happy with where I am today. The way things are going is not ideal with the way our record is. But this is a stage of kind of rebuilding. To be a part of it and see it grow, that’s what I wanted to do ultimately.”
That’s one side of the story. The other side is whether the Jets want Bell to be a part of their future. Ultimately, it’s their decision, because he is under contract. They could try to trade him this offseason.
Adam Gase had the opportunity to shut the door on that talk, but he left it open. When he was asked about it, he didn’t fully commit to Bell being back in 2020.
“We got two games left,” he said. “It’s hard for me to focus on anything outside these two games.
“I know we’re going to do everything we can to just keep finding those ways to get him yards and get him involved in the offense and making him a key part of it. That’s all we can do right now.”
Bell, who sat out all of last season because of a contract dispute with the Steelers, will be fired up for Sunday’s game against his old team in the Jets' home finale.
After the Jets’ final game the following weekend in Buffalo, Gase and general manager Joe Douglas probably will need to have a discussion with Bell and his reps to figure out if they’re going to grow together or go their separate ways.
Gase reportedly wasn’t in favor of the Bell signing, and particularly for the price — four years, $52.5 million. He wanted more money spent on the offensive line. The line has been a major reason Bell has not looked like the elite dual-threat back he was with the Steelers.
He had his best rushing game last week against Baltimore, gaining 87 yards on 21 carries. Overall, he has 676 rushing yards, 404 receiving yards and four touchdowns and is averaging 83.1 scrimmage yards per game. His 3.3 yards per carry are a career low.
In his last two seasons with the Steelers, Bell averaged 141.9 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.
This speaks to a number of things, namely the strength of the Steelers’ offensive line and its ability to open up holes for Bell. But he has not been used nearly as much or in the variety of ways that was expected in Gase’s offense.
When Gase was asked if he thinks he could have done anything differently, he said he will review it after the season.
“I’d have to look back,” he said. “When we’re done with the season, that’s an easier time to do that. Right now, each week, you’re just trying to focus on how do we get the chains moving, how do we get everybody involved and find ways to move the ball?”
The Jets seem to have a player who can do that, but it hasn’t gone as anyone expected.
Gase does prefer a passing offense. The Jets have been down big in many games and have been forced to throw. Still, Bell’s 4.4 catches per game are 1.5 fewer than his last two years with Pittsburgh.
Bell said those who evaluate his season shouldn't go by stats alone. “I feel like I’ve been playing some of my best football,” he said. “I’ve been doing what I’m asked to do. When I get opportunities to actually touch the rock, I feel like I make the most of it.
“People who understand football, break down the film and really watch it, they know exactly what’s going on and what type of player I am and how I’ve been performing. Stats don’t really show how well I’ve been playing.”