Le’Veon Bell represents an exciting possibility for Ravens fans
Bell is, of course, no stranger to Ravens fans. He tormented the team for five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, since sitting out the 2018 season, he has been a far cry from the running back the league came to love in his first five seasons.
His incredible patience and vision; his proclivity for big plays; his unguardable versatility; all seemed to diminish and fade into obscurity.
Regardless, his arrival in Baltimore brought a level of excitement to the fanbase — turning a former Steelers great into an asset for the Ravens is an evergreen dream.
His signing brought with it the questions of whether he is capable of being the player he was, and now after the acquisition and involvement of Murray and Freeman, does he have a role?
How does Bell fit with the Ravens?
Stylistically, Bell’s fit with the Ravens is a peculiar one.
At Pittsburgh and at Michigan State, Bell operated heavily out of I-form looks. His running style thrived in those schemes with the time and space to scan D-to-A-to-D gap.
The Ravens don’t use a huge amount of I-formations as the pistol formation looks take away some of that time Bell would have to scan what’s ahead with the ball in his hands.
In 2019 and 2020, Ravens running backs could have success when taking a little time to pick a hole, but a lot of the success of the ground game came with the offense’s ability to get downfield in a hurry, thanks to the misdirection caused by the read options and motions.
Adding Bell’s running style makes for a potential conflict of styles. Could it work? Absolutely. But we haven’t seen really effective running from Bell in a long time, now.
Having said that, I am at least curious to see how his style translates to this offense. The difficulty in defending Bell was that it forced defenses to be incredibly gap sound and disciplined, or for them to swarm Bell with good outside contain.
The Ravens’ offense creates those very issues by itself. For a defense to have to account for Bell’s ability to patiently slice through gaps and account for Lamar Jackson keeping the ball could open the ground game up even more.