Dunlap: Impossible To Overuse Bell

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Six games in, we are right back where we started. The pillars, the masts, the mainstays of what football has, for the most part, always been built on — winning the point of attack and forcing the other guys to stop you as you run the least-risky plays possible that you think will hit.

And, for me at least, right back to what I thought should be the Steelers’ modus operandi all season — run Le’Veon Bell. Run the legs off that fella. Run him and when he stands up, run him some more. After that? Give him the football again a few more times.

Who knows what’s going to happen with his contract in the next year or so … and, quite frankly, who cares.

Who knows what he will be in five seasons … and, to be blunt, who cares.

Who knows what’s going to happen in the playoffs this season … and, quite frankly right now, who cares.

It isn’t about the future.

Not in the least.

The Steelers should be firmly entrenched and solely fixated on the business of the present — and that business right now is pumping Le’Veon Bell the football a bunch of times because that is what gives them the best shot to win. That is what gives them the best shot at the best seeding in the playoffs.

You see, this season has come back to some Steelers’ hallmarks — running the football on offense and playing beat-you-up defense as the clearest paths to victory. And as the Steelers have improved on defense and gained a deeper trust that they can stop people, including teams like the high-powered Chiefs, the offense should just keep plugging away with a run-first approach.

To wit, Bell got 32 running attempts and caught three passes against the Chiefs while in the win prior — against Baltimore — he carried it 35 times and caught four passes. He toted the ball 27 times in the Steelers’ second game (a win against the Vikings) while also catching four passes.

That said, in the past three Steelers’ wins, Bell is averaging right at 35 touches per game. Some will scream about overuse, an overemployment and need to keep Bell fresh for the games beyond Thanksgiving.

To that, I say garbage. Stack wins. Use your horses when you got them and, right now at least, he pretty much is the Steelers’ most potent horse.

What has become blatant through the first six games is that pie-in-the-sky thought that this offense is going to get 30 points a game. It always bordered on being a pipedream, but now with Ben Roethlisberger obviously slowing a bit, it seems like it simply cannot happen. Even as such, even with the passing game failing to cultivate a No. 2 receiver behind Antonio Brown, there isn’t any reason to panic.

Oh no, not in the least.

The answer is right there in Bell. The defense, because of their stellar play that has surprised some, has afforded this team to look more like a Bill Cowher coached team than one many thought was going to sling it around all over the place.

So just embrace it. Go with it. And by going with it, I mean this: Run those wheels off Lev Bell.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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