Aug 19, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer (27) runs with the ball during the second half against the Washington Redskins at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
"I thought he [Jonathan Dwyer] did some nice things. Obviously putting the ball on the ground doesn’t help him or us. Other than that I thought he did some nice things. He had his moments.-Mike Tomlin after Pittsburgh’s 24-13 loss to Washington"
Jonathan Dwyer surprisingly received an extensive amount of work during last night’s game against the Redskins. I say surprisingly because last night was supposed to be Le’Veon Bell’s “coming out party.” Since Bell’s legs and feet are apparently made of glass though, Dwyer received a bulk of the running game load in his place.
A forgotten man for much of this spring, the Steelers might very well have to rely on their fourth-year running back this fall. I am sure that Pittsburgh’s 2012 leading rusher won’t complain, especially since he is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
While his fumble in the second quarter was ugly, Dwyer still rushed for 68 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry against the Redskins after he entered the game for Bell. I will also say that there were some issues that were out of the running back’s control too.
The offensive line was horrendous at best, and I still cannot figure out why offensive coordinator Todd Haley insists on calling draws from the shotgun formation for a back like Dwyer. Those plays did not work last fall, and Dwyer is best suited when he is able to hit the hole with a full head of steam and heads “North & South.”
With the injuries at the running back position though, the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket has a window of opportunity to win back his starting job. In a recent article by Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dwyer appears hungry to finally realize his potential this fall. According to the article, Dwyer took responsibility for his offseason weight gain and even said, “Now I’m in the best shape I can possibly be.”
Although I still believe that Dwyer is better used as a “situational/change of pace” back, the starting job will be his to lose with Bell and Redman riding the pine. It would not shock me at all either if Tomlin and Haley tried to work him into the offense more during Pittsburgh’s final two preseason games just in case Bell and Redman are unable to recover in time for the regular season.
This fall will be Dwyer’s final audition to prove to Pittsburgh’s brass that he is worth a contract extension. Moreover, this fall could very well be his last chance to illustrate that he can be an “every down” rock-toter at the professional level. I hope that Dwyer can take advantage, because this team has hurt for an consistent “every down” back since the 2010 campaign.
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