Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 and ESPN analyst, has been watching running back Le'Veon Bell and weighs in the second-year back.
What does Le'Veon Bell bring to the Steelers offense?
He brings the stability you need in the run game and confidence that when you call the running plays they have a chance of being successful. A lot of people don't realize when a coach calls a running play he's hoping it's going to be successful, but when you have a running back like Le'Veon it makes it easy for you to call that running play, especially when you have a great quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger with the football. You feel comfortable taking the ball away from Ben and giving it to Le'Veon because you know he is going to do everything he can do to make a big play for you.
**Is it unusual to have a running back as young as Le'Veon who can bring stability and c
onfidence to the running game?**Absolutely. It's rare that you can find a young running back that is dependable. That is usually a drawback with a young running back, that he is not dependable. Normally they are going to make mistakes, they are going to fumble the football. They are going to do something that is going to put your team in jeopardy of losing the football game. You are very, very careful how you utilize him. With Le'Veon you know he is taking care of business as far as knowing his responsibility. Also you know that in terms of him having to block or do something physical he is going to be up to the task as well. He makes every offensive coordinator and running backs coach feel comfortable with him in the game.
Is he the type of back that makes defensive coordinators uncomfortable?Definitely. He especially wreaks havoc on defensive coordinators because of his ability to catch the football as well as run the football. So many times we look at running the football, but a running back that has the ability to catch the ball in the backfield puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a defense because now you have to have linebackers who are not only physical enough to stop the run, but they also have to be agile enough to stay with him in pass coverage if he goes out on a route. That is where he creates separation from just about every defender in the NFL because nobody can stay with him one-on-one.
How unique is it to have a back like him who can be an every down back and take the pounding, but also can be a receiving threat?He is a unique multi-purpose running back. He is your all in one running back. That is very rare. Usually you have to make adjustments for particular situations. He is a running back who can become *the *running back that does everything.
How much did you enjoy watching his performance against the Tennessee Titans, one you referred to on Twitter as old school football?
I loved to see it because it was dominating. It was a situation where you know we are going to run the football, we have a three point lead and we are just going to pound you into the ground and there is nothing you can do about it. We are not going to try and throw the football. We are just going to run it. You know we are going to run it. But we are better than you and that is Steelers football at its finest. It was impressive to watch.
At times it almost looks effortless for him. Do you see that?
I see him make it look effortless, but I know it's not effortless. Having played 13 years I know it's not effortless, but he really does make it look effortless the way he glides through the hole. Once he hits it, he is decisive and he is quick and explosive.
Is there a running back from the past you would compare him to?**
He is bigger than guys who had his elusiveness and quickness. He is still a big running back. It's tough to try and find someone because he can catch the ball like Roger Craig, but he can run the ball and pound the ball like Walter Payton. He has a unique skill set.
You just mentioned two running backs in Craig and Payton that I would guess any running back wouldn't mind being compared to one or the other let alone both. That says a lot about him, doesn't it?It does. It says that he has a great future ahead of him. He is a super talented running back. If he can keep his head on his shoulders and stay on the path, he is going to have an incredible future ahead of him.
Is he the type of back who can carry the offense in years to come?
He is definitely a franchise running back. He can carry the load and he is smart enough to know when there is nothing left there, get out of bounds, and get out of the way. Don't injure your body. You need to be ready for the next play. I saw a little bit of that too against the Titans and that was good. He's got it all and that is what you need to have if you want to carry the football team.
What kind of potential does he have?
His potential is limitless. If he continues to work, he can be the best in the game. He has that type of ability and potential.