Spag­n­uolo glad Bell is on his side

Chiefs co­or­di­na­tor won’t need to scheme against RB

Baltimore Sun - - SCOREBOARD - By Dave Skretta

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The only mem­ber of the Chiefs that was avail­able and will­ing to dis­cuss Le’Veon Bell, ar­guably the big­gest free-agent sign­ing since the off­sea­son, hap­pened to be the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor who won’t have any­thing to do with him.

Steve Spag­n­uolo is happy for that, too.

Spag­n­uolo al­ready had plenty of headaches try­ing to stop Bell when the two-time All-Pro run­ning back was with the Steel­ers. The long­time de­fen­sive whiz had five op­por­tu­ni­ties to shut down Bell, who an­nounced Wed­nes­day that he was sign­ing with the Chiefs, and each time Spag­n­uolo found him­self grasp­ing at straws.

“Look, it’s great al­ways to ac­cu­mu­late good foot­ball play­ers,” Spag­n­uolo said. “I haven’t seen him or gone against him in a long time. But he was so chal­leng­ing to stop in that dual play the Steel­ers ran where he’d just sit back there and pick and weave. No mat­ter what you did, it felt like you couldn’t stop him.”

The Chiefs fol­low a strict sched­ule for mak­ing coaches and play­ers avail­able to re­porters, and coach Andy Reid, gen­eral man­ager Brett Veach and Bell weren’t avail­able Fri­day. Bell could still be com­plet­ing phys­i­cals and pa­per­work, and he must pass a six-day COVID-19 pro­to­col or get an ex­emp­tion be­fore he’s al­lowed in the build­ing, so not even some of the folks in the Chiefs or­ga­ni­za­tion were quite sure when he would join the team.

That’s why Chiefs of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Eric Bie­niemy was quick to say: “I know there’s been some dis­cus­sion about a par­tic­u­lar player. I’m go­ing to de­fer all those ques­tions to Coach Reid and Brett Veach.”

“Right now, our fo­cus is on the Buffalo Bills,” Bie­niemy said. “We need to make sure we get this chip off our shoul­der.”

Bell won’t be able to help them by Mon­day night, of course. But he should pro­vide a big lift for a strug­gling run game the rest of the sea­son, es­pe­cially as the Chiefs (4-1) chase a first-round play­off bye in the de­fense of their Su­per Bowl ti­tle.

Bell be­came a bona fide star with Pitts­burgh, where he ran for at least 1,200 yards and caught 75 passes in three dif­fer­ent sea­sons. But things went hay­wire af­ter he skipped the 2018 sea­son amid a con­tract dis­pute. Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 mil­lion deal with $35 mil­lion guar­an­teed with the Jets, but he never quite meshed with coach Adam Gase, and he was re­leased this week.

Bell was re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing three teams be­fore set­tling on the Chiefs, where he will back up Clyde Ed­wards-Helaire.

The rookie out of LSU, who was the Chiefs’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, raised eye­brows by run­ning for 138 yards with touch­downs on the ground and through the air in his de­but against Hous­ton. But Ed­wards-Helaire had just 38 yards rush­ing the fol­low­ing week, 64 yards rush­ing each of the next two and 40 yards rush­ing last Sun­day against the Raiders — when the Chiefs lost 40-32 to end their fran­chise- record 13- game win­ning streak.

“We drafted Clyde for a rea­son. Clyde is do­ing a heck of a job,” Bie­niemy said. “The rest of that” — re­fer­ring again to Bell — “I’m go­ing to let Coach Reid ad­dress that.”

MATT ROURKE/AP

Ex-Jets run­ning back Le’Veon Bell should be a wel­come ad­di­tion for the Chiefs.

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