Eight years is a long time.
Being in the same house for eight years, working the same job, whatever it may be. Eight years is a decent chunk of time.
Yeremiah Bell is currently playing in his ninth year of his NFL career, the first of which has been in the city of New York (well, New Jersey but…whatever). The first eight years of his career were spent surrounded by those orange, white and off-green colors that makeup the uniforms of the Jets Week 3 opponent—the division rival Miami Dolphins.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Bell of facing his old team. “I’m not putting any extra incentive on it or anything like that. It’s a division game we definitely need to win and it’d be nice to go 2-0 in the division.”
The sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft was released this offseason in a financially motivated decision by Miami’s front office. Bell had lead Miami in tackling for the past four seasons and in those four seasons, he recorded over 100 tackles in each and was considered a team leader for not just the defense, but the entire team. In 2009, Bell was recognized for his 114 tackle, three interception season by being voted to his first and only Pro Bowl selection. Bell has shared success with current members of the Dolphins, but realizes when the game starts, there are no friendships.
“Oh yea I’m sure I’ll see some of them. I mean I’m still friends with a lot of guys so we’ll have our laughs before the game, but only before, when the game starts there are no friends,” said Bell.
Bell was teammates with Miami’s most effective offensive weapon—running back Reggie Bush—who is coming off what was probably his best game as an NFL running back in his seven year career. Bush carried the ball 26 times for 172 yards including two Sportscenter highlight touchdown runs in a dominating home win against the Oakland Raiders. He averaged over six yards per carry while also catching three passes for 25 yards. Today, Bush was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 2 of the NFL season.
“It was a collective effort,” said Miami Coach Joe Philbin of Bush’s effort on Sunday. “The first touchdown run was more of an individual effort. I think there were three, maybe four broken tackles on his own. He made people missed, bounced off and finished the run. The second one (a 65-yard run down the sideline), I don’t believe he got touched. There was good execution at the point of attack, we had receivers blocking down field…it was just a good overall solid football play.”
“Were going to have to play good gap discipline,” said Bell of his former teammate. “We can’t jump around blocks, we can’t let him out on the perimeter. When you do that, he can make guys miss with ease. He’s similar to C.J. Spiller in that he’s quick, he’s fast and he’s a home run hitter. We need to make sure we keep him inside, don’t let him outside and swarm tackle him.”
Rex Ryan also offered his two cents of Bush, saying, “He has great speed, that’s the first thing that jumps out at you. He’s shifty, he runs with a little bit more power than people give him credit for. Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground, put some hot sauce on him, if you will.”
The most notable addition to the Dolphins since Bell’s departure is first-round draft choice Ryan Tannehill, the team’s present and future signal caller for years to come barring some unforeseen setback. The rookie quarterback earned his first NFL win last Sunday. “They are keeping it pretty simple for him,” said Bell of Tannehill. “A lot of quick throws, a lot of easy reads, boots things like that—what you probably should do with a young QB. But outside of all that we are going to throw him some different looks. We have to make it difficult for him out there and if he wants to throw the ball quick, we have to make him throw over our defensive linemen and we have to be in the right position. They found success with that [traditional two-back set] this past weekend, but they also like to open it up a little bit. They like to do a multitude of things, keep the QB fresh and pride themselves on running the ball.”
After a sloppy defensive performance against Pittsburgh, Bell knows the Jets defense isn’t where it needs to be just yet. “Were somewhere in the middle and that is not where we wanna be. We obviously want to be at the top. There are some things we have to sure up, were much better than I think we showed. We pride ourselves on coming out and playing good defense. We just have to get back to playing winning football.
Be sure to find the Jets perform better in two areas of concern: tackling and getting off the field on third down. “Those are two major things, third down especially. The first two games we haven’t played well on third down and if you want to be a good defense in the league you have to get off the field on third down. A lot of that has to do with tackling as well, so we’ve been working on both aspects and we hope to improve drastically.”
Bell is ready to face and defeat the team who drafted him and the team that shaped his NFL career. “It’s a good challenge for us and one we are ready for,” said Bell. Miami players will have to remember that “When the game starts, there are no friends.”