Patriots' approach vs. Le'Veon Bell: Matching patience with aggression

From ESPN - December 15, 2017

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots enter Sundays AFC showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked last in the NFL in opponents average yards per rush (5.0).

Thats not the place any team wants to be, particularly when running back Le'Veon Bell -- who leads the NFL in total yards from scrimmage -- is the next top running back to defend on the schedule.

On the surface, this looks like a bad matchup for the Patriots.

But talk to prideful members of the defense, which will be without one of its top run-stuffers in defensive tackle Alan Branch (knee injury) and possibly without two other top players in the front seven in linebacker Kyle Van Noy (calf) and defensive end Trey Flowers (ribs), and they dont flinch. The stats might not be in their favor, but they still believe in themselves.

They are also fully aware of the massive task ahead of them, and how they want to approach it.

The big challenge is that you cant treat Le'Veon Bell like Melvin Gordon or any other back like that. Hes very unique to himself. Hes very patient, Patriots rookie defensive lineman Adam Butler said. The way Ive taken the approach of preparing for him is matching patience with aggression. Making sure Im aggressive, defeating blockers, because were not just dealing with him, but one of the biggest offensive lines in the NFL. So you have to be aggressive with them, but patient with him.

Butler related that Bells patient style means he wont be immediately making a decision, as hes going to creep up, jump from side to side for a little bit, and then make his move.

Thats what the Patriots (10-3) have tried to duplicate in practice this week, with coach Bill Belichick saying, He leads the league in yards from scrimmage and thats about really all you need to know. ... The guy doesnt lead the league in yards from scrimmage by doing one thing, doing it a little bit. He does everything.

The way Bell does it is unique.


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