One thing that has become clear in the 2019 season is the Jets have no idea how to use Le’Veon Bell’s skillset to their advantage. At least it seems that way most of the time. Once in a while, they will leverage his ability properly.
Take this play early in the third quarter of the game against Miami yesterday. The Jets split Bell wide.
This is a tough spot to put a defense in. Bell has receiver skills, but the threat of him running the ball makes it difficult for Miami to replace a linebacker with an extra cornerback. So when the Jets split him out wide, it puts the defense in a difficult position.
The Dolphins respond by putting a cornerback across from him.
But Bell drawing a corner really messes up Miami’s assignments, and the Dolphins end up with linebackers against both Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson. Those are favorable matchups for the Jets.
In the end, the corner Bell draws respects his route running ability so much that he leaves a huge cushion. It becomes an easy completion for Sam Darnold.
Bell caught the pass and scampered up the field for a 12 yard gain.
These are the types of things Bell is capable of doing to make everybody’s life easier. His ability to split out wide forced the Dolphins to stick linebackers against wide receivers. Bell’s reputation as a receiver got him an easy completion even against a corner.
With a struggling offense, one might think the Jets would go back to something that worked. This team has had a tough time simplifying the game for Darnold and taking the playmaking burden off his shoulders. Here he finally got something easy to execute.
If the Jets split Bell wide again, and Miami approached things the same way there again would be a bunch of mismatches.
If the Dolphins moved their corners inside to play the wide receivers, they would have to put a linebacker out wide against Bell. That isn’t a place most linebackers feel comfortable, and Bell would have a huge advantage.
If it worked enough times, Miami might eventually have been forced to replace a linebacker with an extra corner. That would be the point where you motion Bell into the backfield. Miami would have a lighter box and be more vulnerable to a run play. It would be a way to help out an offensive line struggling in run blocking.
This play happened with over eleven and a half minutes left in the third quarter. The Jets put Bell out wide once more in the entire game. That was in a desperation situation with 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
When we talk about bad game planning and play calling, rarely is it due to something egregious like the Seahawks not giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch in the Super Bowl. More often it is a handful of little things that add up over time. This is one of many little things with the Jets’ offensive approach that seems questionable. They found something that provided them with an advantage and totally disregarded it.
When you hear an analyst say, “The Jets have no idea how to use Le’Veon Bell,” this would be an example.