Tag Archives: Steelers Nation

My Way Too Early Speculation of Where Le’Veon Bell Will Land in 2019

Le’Veon Bell’s time in Pittsburgh is clearly coming to an end. But, where will the All-Pro, all-purpose back land in 2019?

It’s clear the Pittsburgh Steelers and All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell are headed for a divorce. At this point the relationship appears unsalvageable after his teammates, specifically the offensive line, recklessly spoke about his contract situation and reluctance to show up for their week one matchup against the Cleveland Browns. He’s even been removed from the depth chart for week two’s matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bell hasn’t signed his $14.5 million franchise tender, and will be docked $850 thousand for each game his misses. He wants a contract that will reset the market for top-flight running backs. Similar to what the LA Rams signed Todd Gurley to; 4 years, $60 million with $45 guaranteed. The 3-time All-Pro is two years older and unlikely to get that money from the Steelers, especially with the way his replacement, 2nd-year pro James Conner has performed so far in his absence in week one against the Cleveland Browns and training camp.

Bell’s not likely to get a long-term deal because of his age, but he’s a perfect match for teams that are in win now mode. Honestly, that’s the type of team he should be looking for, especially if he’s going to leave a franchise in Pittsburgh that’s always in the championship race.

So assuming it’s really over for Bell in the 412. Where could he land? Who needs him? Who could/is willing to pay him what he desires? Here is my way too early speculation of where he might land in 2019.

New York Jets. The Jets were in the hunt for quarterback Kirk Cousins and willing to pay him top dollar (I know QB money and RB money is different) before he chose the Minnesota Vikings and they drafted Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. They also were interested in acquiring Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders before he was eventually shipped off to the Chicago Bears. My point for bringing up those two players is to show that the Jets organization has the money and appears willing and desires to make a splash. Now that they appear to have a franchise QB in Darnold on a rookie contract, and their defense looks to be more than formidable, they’re only missing a top flight back. The three best friends for a young quarterback are an elite tackle to protect his blindside, a stout defense and a strong running game. Bell would help the team check the final box. Also, it’s New York. Bell likes the spotlight, and an offer anywhere near Gurley’s, even if it doesn’t top it, would likely pique his interest and make the Jets a strong contender in the AFC.

Indianapolis Colts. They’ve been trying to pair Andrew Luck with a running back since the day he was drafted to replace Peyton Manning. They’ve tried just about everything. Last season it was then 35-year old Frank Gore. In previous seasons they went as far as trading for Trent Richardson when he flamed out with the Cleveland Browns after being drafted two slots behind Luck in the 2012 draft. Nothing has worked. The Colts finally have invested in their offensive line to protect their wounded franchise QB. The other way to further that protection, get him an elite running back. Bell is worth the money if the Colts really think Luck is the championship caliber QB to lead them.

Green Bay Packers. The Pack desperately needs to get a running game to compliment Aaron Rodgers. Even though he is superhuman, at some point you put him at too much risk, being predictable by allowing him to drop back and sling it all over the field. They need balance. Green Bay was also interested in acquiring Khalil Mack before he was traded to the Bears. So they too are in win at all cost mode, NOW. Bell would give them a dimension they’ve NEVER had in A-A-Ron’s time under center in cheese country. A balanced attack would make the best QB in the game even scarier.

DARK HORSES

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Who knows what Jameis Winston’s future is in west Florida, but if they keep him beyond his rookie contract that ends in 2019, and he improves on and off the field, their offense has everything but an elite running back. The combination of DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans at wide receiver positions and OJ Howard at tight end is lethal. With Bell they’d have better weapons than what he’s currently apart of in the Burgh. Tampa Bay’s defense led by Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Brent Grimes is stout. Bell would make the Bucs the favorites in the best division in the NFL, the NFC South. A division that has been represented in the Super Bowl 2 of the last three seasons.

Seattle Seahawks. When Russell Wilson was at his best, he had “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch behind him. Even though he’s improved each season, their offense has been very predictable and Wilson playing sandlot ball. Now, they just spent their 2018 first round pick (27th overall) on Rashad Penny out of San Diego State who led FCS in rushing with 2,027 yards in 2017. So this is less likely than the other teams I have mentioned. However, Bell is a different animal, and if you can get him, YOU. GET. HIM.

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Steelers Revenge Tour is on to New England

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Chris Boswell set an NFL record six made FGs in Pittsburgh’s 18-16 win at Kansas City. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, all anybody wants to talk about is the Killer B’s of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Go ahead and add another B, kicker Chris Boswell. Without his NFL postseason record 6 made field goals, Pittsburgh’s season is over.

He was the difference as the Steelers pulled out the win 18-16 without scoring a touchdown. The first team to do that since the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, who went on to win Super Bowl XLI. By the way, that team also played the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

But back to the Steelers and Sunday night. Pittsburgh dominated Kansas City, especially the much maligned defensive unit. Who would’ve thought back in October, that the Steelers defensive would win them a gutsy playoff game?

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Ryan Shazier and Mike Mitchell led a dominate Steelers defensive performance. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

The 11th youngest unit in the NFL, held the Chiefs to 227 total yards (166, passing, 61 rushing). In the first half they allowed 7 first downs, and a total 106 yards (20 rushing, 86 passing). 55 of those yards came on the six play 3:29 minute drive that led to the first opening drive touchdown the Steelers have given up all season, regular or postseason. They were the only team in the NFL to not allow one.

The only time Keith Butler’s unit looked overmatched was on Kansas City’s first offensive possession. And that came after kicking short to avoid Tyreek Hill’s explosive return ability, and allowed Kansas City to return it to their own 45-yard line.

From that moment on, they were on fire, forcing two turnovers (interception, fumble), allowing only 4.6 yards per play and holding the Chiefs to 2-9 on 3rd down. Kansas City looked frustrated and discombobulated all night. Travis Kelce, who many are calling the second best tight end in the game, had 5 catches for 77 yards. Zero touchdowns. Tyreek Hill who has had a breakout rookie season only had 3 rushes for 18 yards and 4 catches for 27 yards. Zero touchdowns. They both scored in the 29-point blowout loss in week four.

The magic number for Pittsburgh is 20. They’re now 10-0 when not allowing teams to surpass that mark.

The offensive stats look similar to the 43-14 week four blowout in Heinz Field, except for the only numbers that count. The ones on the scoreboard. Bell followed up his record setting first playoff game by passing himself in the record books and set a new franchise postseason rushing record with 170 yards on 30 carries. Brown caught 6 passes for 108 yards, and Roethlisberger was 20 for 31 and 224 yards, but a huge pick in the red zone that could’ve changed the way the Chiefs had to play their final possession, had the Steelers turned that possession into any points. On the night they were 0-4 in the red zone.

My main issue in this game was the lack of running the ball in the red zone. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley appeared to fall in love with the passing game too much. For example, after Roethlisberger hit Brown on a 52-yard pass play on their second possession, Bell didn’t touch the ball once inside the Kansas City 25-yard line. They had several opportunities like that in the half to possibly rip Kansas City’s heart out and save Steelers Nations hearts from the late game tension.

The defense is finally playing close to par with the offense. Defense and running games travel, regardless of the weather. If they can put it all together at the same time in the next sixty minutes, they’ll been on their way to Houston and one step closer to holding Lombardi number seven.

The revenge tour now moves on to Foxborough, Massachusetts to face the New England Patriots. The Roethlisberger-less Steelers loss to the Brady Bunch 27-16 back on October 23rd in Heinz Field. The Pats have also beaten the Steelers the last two times they’ve met up in the AFC Championship Game. Both of those games were in Pittsburgh. Time for payback. Kickoff is set for 6:40 next Sunday.

EXTRA POINTS 

  • With his only sack of the night, James Harrison tied Lamarr Woodley for the most sacks (11) in Steelers postseason history. It was also his 4th consecutive playoff game with a sack.
  • Le’Veon Bell is the first Steelers play to rush for 100 yards or more in the first half of a playoff game. He also now has the record for most rushing yards in his first two postseason games.
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Le’Veon Bell’s 337 rushing yards is the most in NFL postseason history for a player’s first two game. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

  • Antonio Brown earned his 4th consecutive 100+ yard receiving game in the playoffs tying him with Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald for the most in NFL history.

 

Le’Veon Bell’s Case for NFL MVP

Bell is 2nd in the NFL in total rushing yards and 3rd in total yards from scrimmage, despite missing 3 games to suspension. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

(Update – 12/28/16): Le’Veon Bell will not play Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers final game of the 2016 season vs. the Cleveland Browns. Neither will Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown.)

I’ve been saying for weeks now that Le’Veon Bell is the best offensive player in the NFL. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to my readers that I think #26 should be the 2016 NFL MVP. On a team with arguably the best wide receiver in the League in Antonio Brown, who leads the NFL in receptions, a perennial pro-bowl quarterback with two Super Bowl victories in Ben Roethlisberger, Bell is the most lethal of the “Killer B’s”. He’s even already been named team MVP for 2016.

My case starts here:

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of a 6-game winning streak that helped them clinch the AFC North title and the 3rd seed in the AFC Playoffs. This after being 4-5 after the first 10 weeks of the season. In this run, Bell is averaging 139.2 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) and 42.7 receiving yards game (8.5 yards per catch), for an average of 181.9 yards from scrimmage. His 12-game average of 157 yards from scrimmage per game is the most in the NFL since Priest Holmes in 2002. He’s converted 62 first downs running and receiving in the streak, His total for the season is 94). Most importantly, he’s scored 7 touchdowns (6 rushing, 1 receiving).

Don’t forget about the 2016 NFL league high and Steelers franchise single-game rushing record of 236 yards he set against the Buffalo Bills in week fourteen. Also, he has more receptions than a handful of NFL teams’ number one receiver.

In the Steelers only loss in the second half of the season to the Dallas Cowboys, Bell rushed for 57 yards and a touchdown, caught 9 passes for 77 receiving yards and a touchdown, as well as converted 10 first downs.

Bell doesn’t just make the offense better, but the defense as well. The formula for the Steelers to win is simple, when he touches the ball 25+ times via the run and the pass, it helps win the time of possession battle, keeping that much maligned defense of theirs off the field. Since week 11 they’ve been a top 5 defense, mostly because they’re on the field less and not as vulnerable to be exploited.

In the win streak, Bell averages 32 touches a game. In the 4 losses he played in, he touched the ball an average 23 times. Much like Pittsburgh’s magic number on defense is 20—they’re undefeated when allowing 20 points or less, 1-5 when allowing 21+ points—25 touches for #26 is the magic number for their offense.

Bell averages 181.9 yards per game from scrimmage in the Steelers 6-game win streak. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Even after missing 3-games due to suspension, he’s second in the NFL in total rushing yards, and third in total yards from scrimmage. In his first game of 2016, Bell rushed for 144 yards on 18 carries and had 5 catches for 34 yards as the Steelers blew out the Kansas City Chiefs 43-14. Proving just how much extra “juice” he brings to an already lethal unit.

Since I mentioned his suspension, most would think that would disqualify him from winning this award. But, Tom Brady is gaining momentum for votes. He was suspended four games to start this season. Therefore it shouldn’t be a knock on Le’Veon either.

#26 has scored 7 touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s 6-game win streak. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

My final point is this, most valuable player should go to the player who if they weren’t on the field for any reason, the team wouldn’t be as successful as they are with him. It shouldn’t just be given to the best player on the team with the best record, as is the case most of the time. Or to the glory position of quarterback which has happened eight of the last ten seasons. LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006, and Adrian Peterson in 2012 were the only non-QBs to breakthrough.

Bell’s performance and incredible versatility is why Steelers Nation gets so upset and disappointed in him that he’s been suspended for off-the-field issues twice in his career. Who knows what this guy could do had he been available for a full 16-game schedule? Who knows where the Steelers would be if he hadn’t stepped up the second half of the season the way he has. That’s why he’s the most valuable.

He probably won’t win the award, he maybe won’t even finish in the top three. But, as I’ve showed you, he should. Who’s been hotter when it mattered the most?

Pittsburgh’s Playoff Hopes Slowly Dying 

 

If the Steelers miss the playoffs, the Ravens will get the credit . Photo Credit: Steelers.com

 
If the Pittsburgh Steelers miss out on the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens can take the credit. The Steelers are no longer in control of their destiny after losing 17-20 to their now 5 and 10 hated rivals for the second time this season. It’s Baltimore’s first sweep of the season series since 2011.

At the start of the game it appeared the Steelers offense would have their way. Pittsburgh received the opening kickoff and appeared to be attempting to make a statement. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley called 5 consecutive run plays which resulted in 52 yards, followed by a short 3 yard pass on third down put them at the Baltimore 25. But, the promising drive yielded no points when Coach Mike Tomlin chose to go for it on 4th and 1, and the Ravens D held.

Quarterback Ryan Mallett, making his first start as a Raven after being signed on December 15th, proceeded to march the Baltimore offense 85 yards (38 by Rush, 47 passing) that ended with an 8 yard touchdown to Chris Matthews. The Steelers playoff hopes began its slow death from there.

The Pittsburgh D allowed Mallett to throw for a career high 274 yards. This is the same guy who got cut by the Houston Texans–who have gone through 4 QBs this season–for sleeping through his alarm. But, as has been the case throughout the season, the Steelers couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down. Baltimore converted 9 of 18 3rd downs in the game, and at one point Mallett was 5 for 5 passing on the key down.

Pittsburgh has proven all season long they can’t be left on the field too long. It showed Sunday with Baltimore winning the time of possession battle 34:20 to 25:40. Baltimore gained 386 total yards, 121 via rushing and 265 through the air.

Even with the D playing down to the level of their competition, the high-powered offense had their chances. But they looked out of sync all afternoon. Not once did they resemble the unit that average 35 points a game over the last 6. In their 5 first half possessions they managed to score only 3 points, and had drives of 2 punts, an interception and a turnover on downs.

Roethlisberger came into the day leading the NFL in passing yards per game at 336.9. He only passed for 215 yards, 193 if you count the yardage loss by the 3 times he was sacked. The Ravens gave up an 8th worse 25.7 points per game coming in to Sunday. The Steelers only managed to get 17. The Ravens were also giving up an 8th worse 342.7 total yards per game. Pittsburgh only gained 303.

DeAngelo Williams was the lone bright spot as he rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries with 2 touchdowns, but 84 of those yards came in the first half. Antonio Brown was held relatively in check by the Baltimore secondary with only 7 catches for 61 yards and 0 touchdowns.

The Steelers only hope for the playoffs now is a victory over the Cleveland Browns next Sunday, and a win by the Buffalo Bills over the New York Jets. If both happen, the Steelers would get in as the 6th seed.

OTHER KEY NOTES

• Pittsburgh’s franchise record of 21 consecutive quarters scoring points coming into the game was snapped in the first quarter when they didn’t score on their two possessions.

• With his 4th catch of the day, Antonio Brown joined Minnesota Vikings great Cris Carter as the only players in NFL history with back-to-back 120 catch seasons. Carter did it in 1994 and 95.

• Steelers are 3-3 this season when trailing at halftime. They trailed the Ravens 13-3 on Sunday.

• Coach Tomlin is now 10-11 vs Ravens in his career. 9-10 against John Harbaugh. 

Steelers-Bengals Week 14 Preview


The Pittsburgh Steelers playoff hopes survived another week with the victory over the Indianapolis Colts, but that was the warm up.

If they are going to make the postseason, they’ll have to survive a 4th quarter gauntlet of a schedule none of the other teams fighting for the last two spots have to face.

This Sunday they face the AFC North leading and #1 seed in the Conference, Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, who have been much maligned over the past four seasons for not winning “big games”, want to make a huge splash by sweeping the Steelers—something they haven’t done since 2009—and dashing their playoffs hopes, while clinching the Division.

The Steelers aren’t done with a loss, but right now they’re not in total control of their postseason destiny. But, if they lose Sunday, it will be farther out of their hands.

In their November 1st meeting, Pittsburgh showed they have the ingredients to cook up a recipe to defeat Cincinnati. The shaky D forced Andy Dalton into 2 interceptions, one in the red zone. The offense outgained Cincy’s O 356 to 296, 116 on the ground between Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams. They also gained more first downs, 21-16, and won the time of possession battle.

But, the Steelers turned the ball over 3 times, all interceptions by Ben Roethlisberger, who was coming off of missing four weeks with a knee injury. He was rusty(28/45, 262 yds, 1 TD, sacked 3 times), and the Steelers still managed to have a 10-6 lead in the 4th quarter before losing 16-10.

If they protect the ball, the Steelers will pull off the upset and solidify their playoff hopes. They’re 2.5 point underdogs at the Bengals. The over under is 49.5 points. I’ll take the over, there’s no way these teams will combine for 26 points again. I predict the Steelers will be victorious, 33-27. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium.