The New York Jets are so much better off without Le’Veon Bell. A few years ago, this was my opinion but at this point, it has become a fact.
Bell was at it on social media again on June 12, 2021, only this time it wasn’t a tweet that blew up. After commenting on an Instagram post from “Rap” about someone overspending at McDonald’s, a Kansas City Chiefs fan got the running back to sound off yet again.
Unprovoked, Bell claimed that he’ll “never play for Andy Reid again,” saying that he would sooner retire. This comes after signing on with the Chiefs during their latest Super Bowl attempt.
The former two-time All-Pro back ran for 4.0 yards per carry off 63 attempts with 13 receptions for 99 yards and two total touchdowns with the Chiefs. In the playoffs, he was given two rushing attempts along with three targets that went for incompletions.
Apparently, Bell thought he deserved more opportunities.
Only a couple of weeks before these comments, the NFL star got into it with people over Adam Gase and the Jets on Twitter.
While Jets fans probably agreed with some of what Bell had to say on Gase’s pathetic offensive system, most also realized that he wasn’t the solution. The running back previously burned bridges on his way out of Pittsburgh, so the trend is growing.
Character Breeds Culture
One of the biggest causes for Jets fans’ optimism right now is their current leadership core. Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh have made it a point of emphasis to bring in high-character players, instead of just focusing on talent above all else.
You won’t find a player like Bell in the Jets’ current locker room, and it has nothing to do with money or whether the running back is washed up or not.
The fallen star is more concerned about his personal stats than winning football games. If you go back three to five years, Gang Green’s roster was infested with mentalities like this — insert Jamal Adams.
The first task Douglas set his sights on as GM was to remove them, replacing these players with the new standard.
Not every pick from Douglas’ inaugural 2020 draft class will show up on his list of accomplishments as a general manager, but there was still one thing I really loved about his process regardless of the results. The GM brought in a certain class of athletes.
The Jets drafted five straight team captains in 2020 (RB La’Mical Perine, QB James Morgan, OL Cameron Clark, CB Bryce Hall and P Braden Mann). Even if some of these players look like busts, they were all later picks and they set the precedent for Douglas’ tenure.
You’ve seen this “new standard” in the free-agent signings as well. On June 10, 2021, running back Tevin Coleman addressed the media and responded to questions on whether or not he preferred to be the Jets’ RB1.
Coleman responded: “It really doesn’t matter to me whatever they do with me, [wherever] they put me on the field, I’m gonna ball… I’m gonna do my job and I’ll go out there and make plays.”
Bell could learn a thing or two from the career-committee rusher. Carl Lawson echoed a similar mindset when asked about his sack totals at his media presser: “Just go win and produce no matter what the situation is.”
On Blair, Coach Saleh said this: “If you like winning, you like Ronnie Blair… He can do no wrong in my book.”
The Future of Jets Football
The Jets 2021 rookie class only yielded two captains (Michael Carter II and Zach Wilson — leadership council at BYU and part-time captain), but the entire group has shown a comradery that our fans haven’t seen in decades.
Whether on triple dates or at playoff hockey games, the new generation of Jets players has bonded. That all starts with the head coach and general manager, who both like to keep an open line of communication with their players.
On the Green Light podcast with Chris Long, Douglas talked about being more of a player’s general manager: “When I took this job, one thing was like, I’m gonna be me, and I’m still going to try and build a relationship with the players.”
Lawson also talked up Saleh at his press conference on March 18, 2021: “When you got a guy who’s that passionate about [football], it makes you want to come in here and work each and every day… it makes you want to build a culture.”
If anyone tries to tell you this core is the “same old Jets” franchise, they obviously haven’t been paying attention. That narrative is in the organization’s rearview mirror, just like Le’Veon Bell.