Le’Veon Bell has yet to make his impact felt with Chiefs offense

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 25: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on October 25, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 25: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on October 25, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Le’Veon Bell has yet to make a big splash in the Chiefs offense.

Chiefs Kingdom was understandably excited when free agent running back Le’Veon Bell announced he was signing with Kansas City back in October after being released by the New York Jets. It seemed like the Chiefs were getting a quality running back with plenty of motivation, plenty to prove and plenty of upside, while adding depth in the backfield at the same time.

There was optimism that Bell would take the Chiefs to an even higher level, adding yet more firepower to a star-studded offence. Fans were enthusiastic about him joining the team, and so too were the players. But since joining the reigning Super Bowl champions, Bell has yet to make much of an impact at his new team.

In his four games with the Chiefs, Bell has 23 total carries for 79 yards (19.8 yards per game) with one rushing touchdown and five receptions for 37 yards.

Despite now playing in a far better offense, Bell’s 3.4 yard per attempt as a Chief is lower than the 3.9 yards per attempt he averaged while he was at the Jets this season. As a Chief he is averaging fewer than six rushing attempts per game, and his longest rush went for 16 yards. He is yet to to be on the field for more than a third of offensive snaps in a game, averaging 18 snaps per game.

Bell’s 20 snaps during the win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 11 were the most he’s had in a game so far, as were his seven rushing attempts. He rushed for 25 yards and one touchdown, a six-yard run to give Kansas City a 27-24 lead in the 4th quarter, his first score as a Chief.

His lack of playing time is understandable. The Chiefs are, obviously, a pass-heavy team, and Bell’s status as RB2 limits his role even further. His lack of impact at RB is not a concern, and there is a very good reason for that—namely, Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

There was a lot of hype surrounding Kansas City’s first-round draft pick from LSU, and so far he has lived up to expectations. Edwards-Helaire burst onto the stage in the season opener against the Houston Texans, rushing for 138 yards on 25 attempts with one touchdown. While his pace has slowed since then, he has still been crushing it.

His 655 rushing yards are the seventh most in the league and second among rookies. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He has the 11th most rushing attempts in the league (140) and the 11th most total yards from scrimmage (887). His best outing came in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, when he rushed for 161 yards at an impressive 6.2 yards per attempt during an impressive road win.

Edwards-Helaire’s success means the Chiefs have had little reason to turn to Bell more often. The incentive to keep Bell on the sideline is only magnified by his status as an impending free agent, while Edwards-Helaire is the Kansas City’s running back of the future.

However, Edwards-Helaire has still seen a slight reduction in playing time since Bell’s arrival. The rookie averaged 66% of offensive snaps through the season’s first six weeks, but that has dropped down to 48% since Bell’s first game in Week 7 against Denver.

Bell’s addition to the roster has also had an impact on Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson, with both seeing their roles and playing time reduced. Williams has only had three rushing attempts and five receptions since Week 7, while Thompson hasn’t had a single offensive snap in the past two games. These reductions in playing time are justified, even if Bell’s time in Kansas City has so far been slightly underwhelming.

The Chiefs are a better team with Le’Veon Bell as a part of it. His addition was always a depth move, with one eye on the playoffs. He’s yet to make much of an impact, but the Chiefs’ biggest and most important games are still yet to come.

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