As the Jets head into Week 17, there are a number of things one could look at as they question what went wrong this year for Gang Green.
Among those things is the running game, particularly Le'Veon Bell, who signed with the Jets this past offseason and has had a sub-par year if you hold him to his previous standards with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After taking a year off from football, Bell has struggled on the stat sheet. Despite what the numbers say, however, he believes he's having a good season.
Through 15 games, Bell has rushed for 748 yards and is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. Even more surprising is the fact that Bell hasn't rushed for over 100 yards--or even 90 yards--in a game this season.
His three rushing touchdowns this season are the least he's had since 2015, when he played just six games due to injury.
"This year's had a lot of ups and downs," Bell said when speaking to the media on Friday. "...This year's been a little different, but I always make sure I come in here, be a jolly guy. I know my teammates look at me to be a leader, I always try to make sure I keep a straight face and help push guys along and they follow my lead."
Despite the obvious drop in production, head coach Adam Gase sees a bright future ahead for Bell within his offense.
"I think another spring and training camp and just conversations of the right way to kind of build this thing going forward, you know, as far as our running game goes," Gase said at his press conference Friday morning. "It's the hardest thing about going through a Year 1, you're trying to learn not only players, coaches, just kind of what's the right fit for this group, and I think just going through a spring kind of set everything up in January, February, March, making sure that we're starting in the right direction instead of trying to figure things out."
In Bell's defense, between Sam Darnold missing games at the beginning of the season--which put the defensive focus almost all on him--and the offensive line being hurt all year, that's a lot to throw on a guy who hadn't played in a year and who was learning a new offensive system.
"We actually talked about it, getting that line, if we had some consistency there, just getting a feel, just kind of spending some time especially narrowing down what we really like doing--that's kind of what hurt us probably more than anything was just flipping these guys around so much...it was almost like week-to-week as far as what we should lean on in the run game," Gase said.
In 15 games, Gase has needed to put out eight different offensive line combinations with guys going out with injuries. He could be putting out his ninth iteration this week if Alex Lewis is unable to suit up.