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Gase: Jets looking to 'lessen the load' for Le'Veon Bell

The Jets are looking for another running back. Not to replace Le'Veon Bell, and the solution could already be on the roster. Regardless, they want to give their primary rusher a partner.

If last year was any indication, they really need to.

"I do think we have some guys that can help maybe lessen the load on [Bell] to where it's not all on him," New York coach Adam Gase recently said, per ESPN. "Hopefully, we can get some of the younger backs to where we can make a good one-two punch to where we can really excel instead of feeling like it's just all on him all the time."

The latter formula failed in 2019. Bell averaged a career-low 3.2 yards per carry last season, which was also the worst mark in franchise history (minimum 175 carries). And that was with him averaging the fewest attempts in his career (16.3). The former All-Pro still had 245 more touches than the next Jets RB (Bilal Powell), the fourth biggest disparity in the league behind Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. They're all at least three years younger than the 28-year-old Bell.

Free agency and the draft didn't deliver obvious answers to New York's lack of backfield depth. Bell's backups include Kenneth Dixon, Josh Adams and rookie La'Mical Perine. At the very least, help could be on the way in the form of better blocking and a revamped passing attack led by third-year QB Sam Darnold. The Jets added speedy targets Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims to complement possession receiver Jamison Crowder. Moreover, promising tight end Chris Herndon is on track to return after missing virtually all of last season to suspension and injury.

Those additions, combined with new offensive tackles George Fant and rookie Mekhi Becton, should bolster a Jets unit that ranked last in total offense, 31st in scoring offense and 31st in rushing in 2019.

"If you have the vertical threats like I think we're going to have with the wide receivers now, hey, maybe we'll start seeing two-high zone instead of them just focusing on one guy in the receiving corps," Gase said. "... You've got some guys who can do some different things there and stretch the field vertically. That was something Chris was really good at.

"Now, all of a sudden, Le'Veon is seeing lighter boxes, which he didn't see a lot last year. We saw loaded boxes for the most part. We didn't do a good enough job winning in the passing game to open some of that stuff up."

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