Jets’ Bell huddles with Gase after lack of touches vs. Jags
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Le’Veon Bell sent a text to Adam Gase, telling the New York Jets coach they needed to talk.
The star running back didn’t like how little he was used in a 29-15 loss at Jacksonville on Sunday, and Bell needed to make sure Gase knew what he was feeling.
“I was a little frustrated,” Bell said Thursday. “I’m always frustrated at a loss, but this was a little different because I wasn’t involved and we lost.”
Bell carried the ball eight times for 23 yards and had three catches for 12 yards. Hardly an ideal workload for your top playmaker, especially on an offense ranked dead last in the league in total yards.
He was so angry, he acknowledged that he left the locker room after the game without speaking to reporters because he didn’t want to make headlines with emotional comments.
“We lost the game and I didn’t feel like I was involved,” he reiterated. “Plus, I feel like that was a game we kind of let go. I didn’t want to say anything I would regret because I was angry at the time.”
That all led to the text and one-on-one conversation with Gase, and the coach listened to everything Bell had to say.
“We had a good little talk because I just want to be one of the main reasons for helping the team win,” Bell said. “I don’t like not being used and we end up losing the game. I felt like I couldn’t help my team out. So me and him had that conversation. Hopefully, things are better from here on out.
“But, I obviously want to help my team win. That’s why I came here in the first place. I want to be involved and I want to help the team win games.”
That has been a tough task, even when Bell has gotten lots of touches for the 1-6 Jets.
He leads the team with 349 yards on 108 carries, but his 3.2 average is a career low. Bell also has just 32 catches for 187 yards. He has only two touchdowns — one rushing and one receiving.
You can probably expect to see a whole lot more of Bell on Sunday in Miami when the Jets take on the winless Dolphins, whose run defense is 31st in the NFL.
“Yeah, that was disappointing last week,” Gase acknowledged. “We just have to make sure that he has touches. Last week was bad. That was on me.”
That’s exactly what Gase told Bell when the two met earlier this week to clear the air.
“I’m not upset at all if I’m not touching the ball and we’re winning,” Bell said. “But lately we haven’t been winning and I haven’t been able to help. That’s why I had to express a little bit, but we’re be fine and we’ll move forward from it.”
Bell is far from disgruntled.
He has been a model citizen in his first season with the Jets, routinely saying all the right things during interviews and being engaging, honest and genuine. The 27-year-old Bell has also come off as a true team leader, refusing to let the struggles on the field affect his approach.
That’s why he wasn’t bothered by the trade talk earlier this week, when general manager Joe Douglas fielded calls from teams looking to acquire Bell. The running back said during Uninterrupted’s “17 Weeks” podcast his agent told him several teams inquired about him, including Houston, Kansas City, Green Bay … and Pittsburgh, the team he left this offseason after sitting out all last season in a contract dispute.
Bell said Douglas called him after the trade deadline passed Tuesday, letting him know how everything played out — including the fact he didn’t actively shop him.
“He didn’t have to do all that, but the fact that he did it, I respected him for it,” Bell said in the locker room. “It was nothing where he went behind my back or anything like that. He straight up told me.”
That’s in sharp contrast to the reaction by safety Jamal Adams, who said he was “hurt” that Douglas even listened to teams’ offers after he told the team he wanted to stay in New York. Adams wrote on Twitter that Douglas “went behind my back” and shopped him.
Both Douglas and Gase have requested to chat with the 24-year-old Adams, but he has yet to accept the invitation to sit down with them.
“If I was that age when I was with the Steelers, I would’ve felt the same way,” Bell said. “I did feel the same way, so I understand where he’s coming from. Obviously, I understand where Joe and Gase are coming from also because I understand the business of everything.
“Both sides, they’ve got to learn to work together, squash it, and move forward. Period.”
Bell posted a video on Twitter on Tuesday night urging fans to have patience with the process in the face of all the losing. He remains convinced better days are ahead.
“Obviously, things aren’t sunny and roses right now, but it will get better,” Bell insisted. “Once we put it all together, I feel like this team will be scary.”