New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell runs the wheel-route and its variations as dominantly as any NFL back we’ve seen.
Le’Veon Bell wanted to reset the NFL running back market. In his mind, he wasn’t only a back; he was a wide receiver as well.
While that sentiment is true in reality, it failed to click on the open market, much to the New York Jets‘ benefit.
Take the wheel-route as evidence A.
Bell can run any route, even as a wide receiver. But when critical third downs come, he’s lethal against linebackers and safeties. It’s evident just how maddening it is to cover the guy out of the backfield on wheel situations.
Both come against Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. Both also come on critical 3rd-and-short plays.
- 11 personnel, Gun, TE Wing, 3 by 1
- Nickel, Single-High, Press, Double G-Gap Show
As soon as Ben Roethlisberger takes the ball, he knows where he’s going. He’s facing a five-man pressure, man-to-man across the field with a single-high look.
This means the Pats put the edge man on Bell. Folks, this matchup will go to Bell every time.
He runs the wheel concept with a bench variation and Roethlisberger hits him for the necessary yardage needed for the first. Notice Bell’s calm route-running and awareness. He knows exactly how much time he has and where the stick is.
Play two, coming later in the game on a 3rd-and-2, is literally an identical situation. Even though the Pats defense knows it’s a possibility, they have no shot to shut it down. It’s tough to throw the right matchup on Bell (safety, speedy backer) when the run is still a great possibility.
What Le’Veon Bell lacks in top-end speed he makes up for with crisp route-running, hips and off-the-charts smarts.
The man can also run a legitimate wheel route as well:
While this example isn’t a legitimate running back wheel, it serves as the same principle from a slot perspective (fade).
Le’Veon Bell’s dynamic matchup ability, especially on 3rd-and-shorts, will greatly help Sam Darnold and the New York Jets offense in 2019.