With the signing this past weekend of running back Le'Veon Bell, the New York Jets were able to plug a very big hole. For three years now, the Jets have struggled on offense, more specifically, to move the ball on the ground. The roster has been occupied with serviceable running backs but not the every day backs who could be counted on for 25 carries and 100 yards on a consistent basis. They certainly filled that spot with the former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro.
Even with his $52.5 million 4-year contract and its $25 million guarantee, Bell might not have been the signings' biggest winner. Of course, Bell's name and talent will surely bring joy to Jets fans who have experienced the pain of watching the Jets lose at least 11 games a season over the last three seasons. They are winners. NY sports bettors, who are using resources found at sportsbooks-ny.com, are also winners because the Jets are now a team that's worthy of a wager every now and then. Even the organization that's likely to see its team pushed back into the playoff picture could be a winner. But, the biggest winner of all is likely to be 2nd year QB Sam Darnold.
Darnold will be entering his second season on the heels of a rock-solid rookie season that saw him pass for 2,865 yards and 17 TDs with 15 interceptions. On the surface, those numbers might not impress fans who are used to watching Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers throw the ball. However, context matters. Darnold only played two years at USC before jumping into the NFL draft. He was then and is now a work-in-progress. The progress he made last year was very evident from one week to the next.
More context. Darnold put up solid numbers behind an offensive line that struggled to open holes for the running backs and keep pass rushers off Darnold's tail. He didn't have a deep threat wide receiver to throw to in order to loosen up defenses, and he didn't have a quality running back to lighten his load and keep defenses honest. He was able to survive all of that and still make clear he was the team’s future.
With Bell in the fold, Darnold has an explosive back with good hands and durability to help share responsibility for the offense’s success. As long as Bell stays healthy, he will carry the ball 25-30 times a game because running the ball is definitely in Head Coach Adam Gase’s DNA. With more time to throw and an additional set of hands to throw to, Darnold could well be the biggest winner of the Bell deal.
Bell's importance to Darnold is not lost on Bell, who told reporters, “He's a young guy. When I was young coming up in this league, I just kind of went out there and played football and made plays. The old guys for me as we were going just kind of talked to me about little things here and there. But the only thing I would really do for Sam right now is just try to be his (security) blanket … just take him under my wing and pick his mind a little bit to see what he likes to do and what he's comfortable with. Because I've been in the league a little longer … so I feel like I can adjust a little better. I can make his job easier."