Why Bell Got Benched
Although it was mostly a footnote in the Philly sports media world, Demetress Bell getting benched in favor of King Dunlap caught me by surprise. I knew that the offensive line didn’t look very good against the Steelers this past Thursday, but I hadn’t noticed Bell in particular. So I went back to examine what happened, and the results were far uglier than I imagined.
4:42 : Bell is beat outside by Chris Carter #54 (A 5th round pick in 2011) on a speed rush. Shady helps out and buys some time for Vick. Woodley bull rushes Herremans to create pressure from other side. Mathis, Kelce, Watkins hold their blocks.
4:36 : McCoy runs left. Bell puts a body on absolutely nobody, gets himself sandwiched between Mathis and Harbor. Looks like he keyed in on Carter and ignored the upfield block on Lawrence Timmons.
3:28 : Pittsburgh shows heavy blitz, but only rushes 4 and drops 2 QB spies. Bell follows Carter again to the outside, who attacks Harbor on the edge. When Vick steps up, Bell gets caught over-pursuing, and Carter reverses direction to beat him back inside. Bell hardly gets a hand on him. McClendon gets the sack, but Carter wasn’t far behind.
11:10 : Steelers rush 5. Bell is matched up one-on-one against Carter, who starts outside then tries to stunt back inside. Bell is ready for it, and makes his first good block at the Linc.
10:34 : Carter goes for a speed rush yet again. Bell pushes him into the backfield, but loses his footing and Carter gets around him. Vick has about one second to get rid of the ball.
10:00 : Carter again one on one with Bell, again beats him on a speed rush to the outside. This time, Vick must step up because of the pressure, and hits his hand on Kelce’s helmet on his follow through.
Yes, this was just the first preseason game. Yes, it was just six snaps. But those six were enough to show Howard Mudd that Demetress Bell is simply not ready to be the starter at left tackle. And I tend to agree with that call. Bell looked slow and unsure of his assignments.
Maybe he’s just not yet comfortable in the system. Despite his injury history, Bell was a pretty good player during his time in Buffalo, and I expect that he’ll be much, much better by the time September rolls around. At the end of the day, Bell will likely get the start in Week 1.
But in the meantime, King Dunlap has the opportunity, for the first time in his career, to steal a starting job. Despite his early struggles (He was a 7th round pick, after all) Dunlap has steadily and quietly improved over the last three years. He has the benefit of a year’s worth of experience in Mudd’s system. And by all accounts, he’s chomping at the bit to get on the field. If you pick just one player to watch next Monday, it’s definitely King. (Here’s a link to Dunlap’s preseason game tape.)