Common Traits Atop Steelers Running Back Depth Chart No Coincidence

By Matthew Marczi

What a fall it has been for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman. In just the span of a few weeks, he has gone from starter to personal escort, playing just to help push Ben Roethlisberger forward on a third and one for a first down.

There have been some extenuating circumstances that have led Redman to being demoted behind new co-starters Le’Veon Bell and Felix Jones, but rest assured, he no longer possesses the distinction of co-starter because he earned it just as much as Jones earned the promotion.

Of course, it was always a matter of time for whomever the co-starter was that he would lose his spot once Le’Veon Bell was ready to go, and the Steelers have declared him ready for their Week Four matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Redman has not been able to have success much while carrying the ball so far this season. In the first game, he showed clear signs of rust after missing basically all of the preseason, and was unable to hold on to the ball twice.

The following week, he suffered a blow to the head and had to be put through a barrage of concussion tests before he could return to play. The delay afforded Jones the opportunity to flash some in his few runs, and when Redman did return to the game, he did not look much better than the week before, which included a failed conversion on a third and short scenario.

Redman did not see a single carry in the last game, and I do not expect that to change this week with Bell now being active. Jonathan Dwyer saw the most carries in the last game, and had the most yards.

However, almost all of his yardage came off two runs, and that is a problem, because he carried the ball 10 other times for just three yards, as Dave Bryan detailed recently. Still, the fact that he is now listed ahead of Redman on the depth chart suggests to me that the latter may find himself on the inactive list this week, although that spot may go to tight end Michael Palmer now that Heath Miller has had some game action under his belt.

Part of Redman’s issue is that he has not been getting the type of blocking from the offensive line and the tight ends that is most suited to his running style. All the backs have suffered through some poor run blocking, though it has gradually improved over the course of the first three weeks.

It is no coincidence, however, that presumably the two backs most capable of executing zone runs now find themselves on top of the depth chart in Le’Veon Bell and Felix Jones. That is simply the only thing the line has shown itself capable of committing to on the ground thus far, and they now have the backs most able to help them succeed in that system. Will it bear fruit against the Vikings? We will all find out together, I suppose…

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steeltown

    That is something I think a lot of people aren’t considering, yes Dwyer had the most yardage, but subtract that 25yd run and he had like 14yds on 11 other carries. He is clearly a superior blocker compared to Felix Jones, but Felix seems to be a little more consistent in the run game, seems to always fall forward and has a better yds per avg

  • cencalsteeler

    Tomlin bubblewrapped Redman during the preseason. He suffered a stinger in that preseason game and never played another down. Tomlin felt that was his starter so he rested him. Dwyer was then on audition the rest of the preseason to determine if he made the roster. This backfired, for Redman showed rust and didn’t get enough ample playing time.

  • steeltown

    Yep.. I would’ve been surprised if Redman came out of the gate and tore it up on the ground after missing basically all of preseason. I had a feeling he would be rusty and not game ready

  • Weiss Chad

    Redman should have been odd man out but didn’t even compete in pre season.Dwyer is not great but imo brings more to the table than redman.Imo he should be third down back.Switch gilbert to left and adams to the right.Use both johnsons more.Pass to set up run.Trade Sanders.

  • charles

    Felix Jones looks suited for ZB. I fear he will fumble at the wrong time.
    Red Zone Redman was Mike Tomlins first out loud wish as a coach and that was to be able to run ‘downhill’ inside the five or third and short. Redman did that abstractly when he pushed Ben forward on that qb sneak. It is hard to blame Redman for the first fumble against Tenn. 2 plays after starting center went out, but his second fumble cost him with Tomlin.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Redman not only went through a barrage of concussion tests, he actually suffered a concussion in the 2nd game, yet was allowed to return to the game. Nobody in this oranization, FO, coaches, and I guess now doctors, can make a sound decision lately.

  • Shea Fahr

    Actually, Redman got ktfO in Training Camp by Foote and never made his way back.

  • Shea Fahr

    I agree. Felix good runner on first and second…then bring Dwyer in on 3rd down run option with pass blocking.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree with you regarding Felix Jones. He carries the ball similar to Mendenhall. He swings his arms so much, that ball is just asking to be punched out. Needs to keep it tucked under is arm pit more when he’s running.

  • cencalsteeler


  • Mike Carroll

    Do you say this because of Redman’s recent claim he was concussed? I’m not saying he was or wasn’t concussed but I’m curious to know what happened. I didn’t even see him on that kickoff.


    Adams may not be great, or even good, but he is a natural LT…Gilbert is not. Switching them hurts both players imo…put Beachum @ LT, keep Gilbert where he is and send Adams to the bench. Maybe Colbert can find a real LT next year if Adams is truly deemed a failure.

    Trade Sanders for what? A pick? No, that imo would be akin to quitting on the season. Stuck with him for this season, Give some of those deep routes to Wheaton.


    Matt…they had to know Redman was not suited for for the ZB scheme, and Dwyer is not a ton better…Hopefully Bell has similar burst/cut back ability that F. Jones does and the running game will develop into something by mid yr assuming they don’t have many more OL combinations. Redman should only play in emergency situations the rest of the way.

  • Weiss Chad

    How is adams a natural lt?Because he is left handed.Gilberts a natural lt also and has outplayed adams.I thought adams looked better on right side exspecialy in run game.As far as Sanders,He is gone next yr prob and I don’t see them getting even a four in comp.if he does.He haa underachieved and w heath back and wheaton showing a little promise.Sanders is injury prone and imo is not getting job done.

  • Mike Popovich

    It doesn’t matter if it was Jones, Dwyer, or Bell. Nobody is going to have a respectable YPC when they’ve got a DE jumping on their back 9 of 11 carries before they hit the line of scrimmage. Dwyer and Jones looked fine with what little the offensive line gives them. Theres no doubt in my mind, at least, that Dwyer is a 1200 yard back when he gets blocks up front.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    It seems peculiar to me that the hopes of a competent running game is in the hands (literally) of a castaway player (F. Jones) and a rookie. Redman and Dwyer for all their contributions neither has seized the opportunity…and boy have they had multiple chances…to be the man. I’ve seen and read many opinions here discussing the merits of Redman v. Dwyer and so far at this point in the season I’m convinced of one truth…neither of them are any good. Sure there are MOMENTS where a play was made but there are not enough of those moments strung together to have consistency. The only consistency these eyeballs have seen is that they are inconsistent. you can’t play one good game only to follow it up with a horrible one. That formula isn’t one conducive to success. Honestly, can anyone truly say that they TRUST Redman, Jones or Dwyer?


    How? Largely because he was a LT in college, has the long arms you like in a LT, and decent footwork…what he doesn’t have is the strength of the top flight guys. Steeltown say he has 9 starts total, so only a handful @ LT…I would keep them both where they are.

    Sanders…you’re right about him as a player…my point is a pick does nothing for us now, and that pick is not going to be much better than a 4th rounder…I’m with you on giving Wheaton a shot to play, but right now that would be in lieu of Cotchery.


    Good points…I think Dwyer can be a starter in the NFL talent wise…but not in a ZB scheme where the RB normally starts lateral then cuts back to daylight…pretty clear that Jones was more effective because he’s quicker…I just hope the kid has that same kind of ability.

  • Weiss Chad

    I agree w adams arms and size.Imo it looks like adams is to slow off the snap.I’m rooting for him and think he could be a GREAT rt.He is above avg run blocker.This line is not performing at all the way it is and its heart breaking.Something has to give w all do respect.

  • TheBlitz

    Does that mean the front office wasted 1.3 Mil on Redman ? Factor in the wasted cap space and the fact that he might not even be activated this weekend that indeed looks pretty bad.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I totally agree that none of these backs(besides Bell) seems to be any good. The problem I’ve always had was the decision to appoint Redman the starter and cast away Dwyer when they both basically suck. Also, the fact that Dwyer seems to suck just a bit less than Redman does makes the decision makers look completely incompetent. I like Jones, but he’s not a good blocker, and he seems to fumble just as much as the others.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Yep, why would he lie? He said he was “out of it” the rest of the game. Maybe that’s why he was stopped on that 3rd and 1.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Watching Felix Jones run makes me at times think that the Steelers found a gem, right until he fumbles the ball or lets Ben get pressured while pass blocking. I don’t mean to be overly critical of these RBs as they have shown flashes but man do they have alot of warts. I just can’t get behind any of them at this point. Hopefully Bell can show something that the others aren’t. That would be a welcome start to fixing the ground game.

  • Riverstko

    Use all 4 rbs. Remember a few years ago we would save our power rb for the fourth quarter. It would wear down opposing defenses at the end of the game.
    They all should get carries.

  • Informed reader

    I think out of all of them who have played this season, Jones is the best (I’m not including Bell bc he hasn’t played yet….I really hope he turns out to be the second coming of Franco Harris, but I’m trying to keep my expectations in check until he actually shows something on the field.) But they should not count on Jones to pass block…he is not good at that. But yes, he can really run. I don’t think he fumbles any more that the other backs…it happens to everyone occasionally.

    Dwyer is the best pass blocker out of the bunch, and also a pretty decent runner, though of a very different style and not as fast as Jones. So he is useful in certain situations.

    Redman can’t pass block and can’t run, so i’m not sure why he is on the roster.

  • charles

    That was exactly who I was referring to by fumble at the wrong time because Mendy did not have that many fumbles.