For the Arizona Cardinals, the running game is arguably the weakest part of the offense. Le’Veon Bell could help fix that.
Outside of the running back position, the only other competition for the direst need on the Arizona Cardinals offense is the tight end position, which the team has neglected for so long. With Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray recently saying that he wants his legs to be a “luxury,” and not wanting to be the focal point of the rushing offense, enter Le’Veon Bell.
James Conner and Chase Edmonds are not the guys Arizona should want to give the ball to. Neither has proven that they can be a valuable and reliable asset out of the backfield. While they don’t have the character issues that Bell has, at least the free-agent running back is still saying he wants to be used as a No. 1 back.
Bell’s latest comments about Andy Reid’s misusage of his talents with the Kansas City Chiefs last season shocked some in the NFL world this week. It’s hard to think of any player who openly disliked Reid so much.
Why signing Le’Veon Bell should be a priority for the Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals haven’t had a true franchise running back since the magic one-year wonder of David Johnson. Despite the hate that was put on Kenyan Drake, he was the closest the Cards got to having one again.
So what are some reasons why Bell could thrive in Arizona’s current offense?
For starters, Bell can be most effective when having a great passing game around him. He excelled when the Pittsburgh Steelers had the great attack of Antonio Brown and a slew of other pass-catchers to give opponents headaches on how to defend. Also, the Steelers having one of the best centers in the league, Maurkice Pouncey, helped a lot (enter Rodney Hudson).
Secondly, Bell would fit into the Cardinals’ offensive scheme instantly. In Pittsburgh, they ran a combination of a guard pulling scheme and zone. Arizona’s main thing is the zone rush, and Bell’s patience can be the reason he succeeds just as much with the Cardinals as he did with the Steelers.
Thirdly, Bell can pass block. This article from PFF (before their recent antics with rankings) a few years ago details how good the veteran running back can stand his ground against defenders. His size and understanding would make him a valuable asset in the league’s toughest division.
And lastly, Murray doesn’t want to be the bell cow. Murray has been infamous for avoiding contact on his small frame. Reducing his rushing attempt is only going to make him more effective, as teams will no longer be able to key in and make it a failed play from the start. Bell can handle the workload, and it seems like he’s pretty motivated to get another chance by the sounds of it.
Besides, if Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury ditches the zone-read plays next season, what’s going to happen to half the goal-line offense? Last year, the Cardinals struggled in the red zone, and it wasn’t just the running game (see Christian Kirk’s futility against the New England Patriots).
Play action was also big during Bell’s time in Pittsburgh and that should also be implemented more in the desert.
Arizona general manager Steve Keim typically doesn’t sign guys like Bell. But this is someone the Cardinals can bring in for training camp, see how he performs, and then make a decision. It would certainly be better than what Arizona has right now.