Adam Gase Dec 1, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Jets head coach Adam Gase watches during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for Le’Veon Bell to realize that the difference between Mike Tomlin and Adam Gase was stark.

After leaving Pittsburgh for what he perceived to be greener pastures in New York, Bell was rudely awakened by that fact. And it didn’t take long to tell who the former All-Pro running back was taking aim at. During a recent appearance on Barstool Sports’ Steel Here podcast, Bell recounted his time in New York (17 games) and what it was like to play for who many believe to be the worst head coach in recent NFL history.

“We get to New York and that’s when I instantly find out that head coaches make a huge difference,” Bell said. “As soon as I get to New York, I find that out the first week…I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. I knew it.”

Prior to his arrival in New York, Bell sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After starting off 1-7, the Jets finished Gase and Bell’s first season in New York with a 7-9 record. A lot of things went wrong, but they managed to right the ship down the stretch.

“The team wasn’t that great, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like if coach Tomlin was coaching that team, we win nine games at least,” Bell said. “But it’s ‘til like the point where Sam Darnold don’t even know the actual protection or what the line’s protecting because he’s confused about our offense because the coach is confusing him.”

Bell offered some perspective on Darnold—the former No. 3 overall pick—who showed some flashes but struggled mightily during his time in The Big Apple. While to his credit, Darnold never pointed the finger at anyone but himself, it seems like the former USC Trojans quarterback was overwhelmed with the prospect of learning a complicated, new offense.

And Bell, who wore his hands in his face at the mention of his underutilization in Gang Green’s offense, ultimately paid the price.

In his first and only full season with the Jets, Bell had 245 attempts for 789 rushing yards with three touchdowns. He averaged just 3.2 yards/carry and 52.6 yards/game, playing in 15 games during his age-27 season. So naturally, he was pretty upset. 

“I dealt with that the whole year and didn’t say one thing about [Gase] even though I was upset. The play-calling was terrible,” he said. “It was a lot of things that were not going the way that it obviously should’ve been going. But, anytime I was about to be talking to the media or whatever, I just ate it.”

Bell trained the entire offseason preparing to avenge a lost season and he had six touches in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season. That appeared to be the final straw. After returning from a hamstring injury that cost him three games, Bell was so upset with his role in a 30-10 loss to the Cardinals, that the Jets released him the following Tuesday.

While he made his money, you can tell that Bell has some regrets when it comes to playing for Gase and the Jets.

[Barstool Sports; photo from David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.