When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Jonathan Dwyer in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, I thought he would end up being a steal. Through his first two seasons with the team however, Dwyer hadn’t shown much other than short flashes while running for 151 total yards. That, coupled with constant reports of Dwyer showing up to camp out of shape, didn’t help the young running back endear himself to Steeler Nation. Even with all of that I thought if given the opportunity, Dwyer would surprise everyone and show he could be a starting running back in the league.
Dwyer, and Isaac Redman for that matter, was given a huge chance with Rashard Mendenhall missing the start of the 2012 season. Though the running game struggled mightily through most of the season, Dwyer did lead the team in rushing for ten of their 16 games. None more impressive then when Dwyer rushed for consecutive 100 yard games in weeks seven and eight. The only problem is that Dwyer then missed the next game due to injury and never seemed to get back into a rhythm the rest of the season.
Because of how much the running game struggled, Dwyer got little to no praise for leading the team in rushing for the season with 623 yards. In my opinion, a lot of the early offensive woes were due to poor play calling by Todd Haley and then later in the season the team started losing offensive linemen weekly. Then once you lose Ben Roethlisberger for any elongated stretch you have to expect the offense to mostly grind to a halt.
Going into the offseason, knowing the offensive line would be healthy and everyone more comfortable in Haley’s offense, I thought there was no reason Dwyer could not be the starter in 2013. Especially considering the team has Redman as a spot starter in case of injury. I thought so strongly about what Dwyer could do I thought it would be foolish for the team to take a running back early in the draft this year. I really like Le’Veon Bell a lot and I believe once healthy, he can be a great asset offensively for the Steelers. That does not mean though that I would not have rather taken a position I considered more of a need in the second round.
Specifically, linebackers Jon Bostic and Arthur Brown were taken only a few spots after the team selected Bell.
Dwyer’s cutting is disappointing because he had a ton of potential and at only 24 years old, he could have solidified the running back position for years. He obviously did not show enough last season for the coaches to not draft Le’Veon Bell and he did not show enough in camp to even beat out Felix Jones.
I wish Jonathan Dwyer luck with the rest of his career but I’ll always be disappointed thinking about what he could have done as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Statistics from ESPN.com.