On Monday, New York Jets head coach Adam Gase at times deferred to general manager Joe Douglas on the future of Le’Veon Bell with the team and then also praised his starting running back. In return, Bell had a bit of fun on Twitter about the exchange between his head coach and the media as it came to his future with the team.
No need to look any further. Everyone seems fully gruntled, as Bell utilized a GIF from the sitcom 'The Office' in his response to Gase's initial remarks about his future with the team.
Gase directed two questions about Bell's future with the team to Douglas, who has media availability on Tuesday at the team's facility.
At the start of his press conference on Monday, Gase’s final availability of the year, the Jets head coach fielded a couple of questions about Bell’s status moving forward. The line of questioning is certainly warranted on multiple levels. The prize catch of free agency last year, the running back had a down, his 789 rushing yards his lowest total in a season since 2015 (at least according to Wikipedia, which is the best thing ever).
The drop in production from Bells usual Pro Bowl standard isn’t the only reason why his future is murky with the Jets. It was a season where he was running in a prison, surrounded by his own personal Dementors in the backfield on nearly every play.
Bell also was a signing of former general manager Mike Maccagnan and with a new general manager now in Douglas, combined with a decline in production this year, the future of the running back with the Jets is surely uncertain. There’s also the fact that Bell’s four-year contract worth $52.5 million makes him an expensive investment and a possibility to trade, giving the Jets even more room to operate this offseason under the salary cap.
Now, while Bell’s numbers are down, it isn’t all his fault. With improvements this offseason, the Jets have no idea how high Bell can fly.
The Jets offensive line suffered numerous injuries and poor form throughout the year, making this a down rushing year as a whole for a franchise that historically has run the ball well this decade. In addition, the loss of quarterback Sam Darnold for three weeks after the season opener hurt the entire offensive balance, allowing opposing defenses to key-in on Bell and the ground game.
Gase certainly didn’t slam the door on Bell returning, even as he initially said questions about the running back’s future should be directed towards Douglas. In fact, later in his press conference he praised the Jets running back for fitting into the locker room – he “just fit in” - and his willingness to improve in 2020. Time perhaps, to put this season in the baler.
“I think that was a conversation we had a couple weeks ago, we talked about looking at some of the stuff they did in Pittsburgh and talking through some of the things he’s comfortable with in the run game, especially early in the off season of trying to focus on those types of runs, and pass game, and we both are like, we’ll be able to take a break and then when we come back we can really hone in on some of those things that maybe we missed or we did too much of that he wasn’t really comfortable with,” Gase said on Monday.
“You know, it’s one of those things that allows us to evaluate kind of what we did as an offense, and then I can go back to him and we can talk through that stuff when we get back in the spring.”
It doesn't sound like it is time to declare bankruptcy on the Bell-Gase relationship quite yet.