You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Yankees.
Le’Veon Bell has been a great back. Since his departure from the Steelers, he has been absent. Do you think the Steelers saw this coming and that’s why he did not get the big contract along with his “me” attitude? — Tim Rollins
All right, Tim, there’s a lot to unpack here. Bell has only had one season since leaving the Steelers after sitting out his final season with Pittsburgh. So, it’s hard to say he’s been absent. Last year was a bad season for him. Was it the offensive line? Was it rust from missing a year? Was it Adam Gase’s system? Is he done? There are a lot of questions to answer about last year. We’ll soon see what the 2020 Bell looks like.
I don’t think the Steelers saw anything coming. They offered him a five-year, $70 million deal in July 2018 that he turned down. That led to the contract standoff and him sitting out the season. I think the Steelers decided to move on when they saw what James Conner could do for much less money. I’m not sure where you get the “me” attitude from Bell. He’s actually been a good teammate since coming to the Jets. He did not really complain about carries last year outside of the Jacksonville game and Gase agreed with him that he should have given him the ball more. Last week’s Twitter storm about the scrimmage was a bad look, but it was out of character for him.
After the unbelievable rash of injuries the Jets suffered last season, which in hindsight may have cost them a couple of games and an unlikely playoff berth, why do they continue to get banged up, especially in no contact practices and limited contact scrimmages? — Paul L.
Tough question, Paul. The Jets had an incredible run of bad luck with injuries last year. It was not like they were all one thing. Some were broken bones and others were soft-tissue and then there was Sam Darnold’s bout with mononucleosis. This summer, they have been banged up again. It’s not like the Jets practice differently than other teams. If anything, I’d say they are overcautious. The one good thing I’ll say about this summer’s injuries: there were no season-ending ones.
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Going into the year I am split between the corners or receivers being their weakest group. I think [Gregg] Williams can scheme up only so much, but do you think Gase will be able to scheme up enough to cover for the WR group? — Ira
In fairness, Ira, it is easier to hide cornerback problems than wide receiver problems for a coach. Williams will play a bunch of Cover-2 again like he did last year to give the corners help. I’m not sure if Gase can hide problems at wide receiver unless Darnold can really elevate the play of those around him or the running game gets rolling.
As an honest Jet fan I see this team going 5-11. The hiring of Gase was a disaster, paying Bell was a disaster and I see this as a big problem for Darnold and his development. Do you believe the Jets will fire Gase and let [Joe] Douglas do what he needs to do come 2021? — John
Can they play a game before we start firing the coach again? Gase went 7-9 last year and everyone acts like it was a 2-14 season. He did not lose the team after a 1-7 start and they finished 6-2. That counts for something.
I think the key for Gase this season will be how well Darnold performs. If he goes backward, the Jets will have to consider a new coach for 2021 to see if that gets Darnold playing well. If Darnold improves this year and the offense is respectable, I think Gase will be back in 2021. One thing to remember about the Gase/Douglas dynamic: Douglas is here because of Gase. So, any idea that Douglas wants to get rid of Gase is not accurate.
With [Denzel] Mims out and losing valuable rookie reps, wouldn’t it be worth taking a look at Dez Bryant?? If nothing else, he’s a big, strong target in the red zone. — Wayne Odato
No way. You know who has as many catches as Bryant over the last two seasons? Me. Bryant is not what the Jets need. I could see him possibly fitting into a team that already has a championship culture. The Jets do not.