Is A Reunion With Jonathan Dwyer Even A Possibility?

By Matthew Marczi

With Le’Veon Bell not expected to be ready to play for at least another week or two and, more significantly, the news that LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a torn ACL, it begs the question, is a reunion with Jonathan Dwyer even an option at this point for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Of course, that news would be delightful to hear for the many fans that were disappointed, if not outraged, over his release, even if there were justifiable reasons for the team parting ways with the fourth-year back. But mitigating circumstances have radically reshaped the way the Steelers view their stable of running backs on the roster.

One big factor, no doubt, is the fact that Isaac Redman fumbled the ball twice in yesterday’s opening day loss. As exhibited last season, head coach Mike Tomlin is rather unforgiving with regard to turnovers, and will bench players who fumble even if it is not in the team’s best interests.

Redman’s first fumble was the result of a sloppy exchange, caused by a miscommunication in personnel, and was recovered in the end zone by the Tennessee Titans for a touchback. The second fumble, at least, Redman was able to recover..

The running game struggled significantly in the home opener regardless of who was in the backfield as the offensive line struggled to open holes for its backs. The team also lost Maurkice Pouncey four minutes into the game. The injury also affected the outside blocking, as it forced Kelvin Beachum to move over from tight end to center.

As it currently stands, Redman and Felix Jones are the only healthy backs on the roster. Even if you include Will Johnson, he is still nursing a hamstring injury that he described as “tender to the touch”. He can eat a couple of carries in an emergency situation, but the Steelers would certainly like to avoid that scenario.

With Redman’s fumbles and ineffectiveness and Jones’ inexperience with the playbook, Dwyer would seem to make a lot of sense on the surface, and it would not be shocking if the team approaches him, as he remains a free agent after visiting with the New York Giants.

One has to wonder, however, if the Steelers have burned that bridge with Dwyer. After being released, Dwyer said on Twitter that he has a chip on his shoulder now and that “they will regret it”, they, of course, being the Steelers. If Dwyer has another opportunity, he may very well favor moving on elsewhere.

It is also important to consider that Dwyer is far more of a power back whose strength is not his vision or shiftiness or abilities as a receiver. The Steelers may be interested in bringing in another back that possesses those abilities rather than Dwyer, whose skill set is far closer to that of the backs already on the roster. Alvester Alexander could be called up from the practice squad. In fact, that may very well be the most likely move.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting possibility to consider a hypothetical reunion between the Steelers and Dwyer. While there were good reasons for the split—primarily his contract—there are also good reasons to at least consider a reunion if the two sides could make amends.

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

    Can we lure Bettis out of retirement? I’d love to see him try to run behind this line.

  • bgsteelfan

    If Barry Sanders in his prime had to run behind this line the way they are playing, he’d retire early all over again. They may not be the most talented line in the league, but they are playing far below their collective talent level.

  • Dwayne Ferguson

    Redman just looked rusty after missing most of the preseason. I am not ready to write him off yet. I have no problem with bringing back Dwyer and releasing Jones but that will obviously not happen. I hope Howlings is not hurt bad- we need him on third down and to return kicks. I was excited to see what he would do on special teams.

  • Dwayne Ferguson

    If Berry could still make 3 guys miss him behind the line of scrimmage like he used to do I think he could run even behind our line.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Let’s see…the o-line couldn’t block two years ago, couldn’t block last year, couldn’t block in the pre-season and couldn’t block in the opener. At what point should Tomlin and Colbert have realized they have a really lousy o-line and done something about it ?

  • T R

    Howling tore ACL he is hurt bad and likely out for season..

  • T R

    correct.. how hard is it to find 5 fat dudes to block another few fat dudes for 4 secs.. I know i know im just mad.. Sorry

  • JPDQ

    Hell no. If I was Dwyer I’d laugh in the Steelers face. I thought Felix Jones could do everything that Dwyer could do, remember? He impressed the coaches with his vision, his speed, and his quick study of the playbook so much that they decided not to use him even after their “starting RB” Redman fumbled twice!

    You remember that guy Redman, right? The guy that was supposed to be a better fit for the Steelers because he didn’t FUMBLE as much as Dwyer (even though they both had two apiece last year – congrats on matching last year’s totals in the first week, big guy!) and because he was more MOTIVATED. And lets not forget how they dismissed the argument that Redman didn’t need to PROVE himself in the preseason, while all the other guys did. Yup, “we know what Redman” can do, right MT?

    Anybody that has read my posts here knows I’ve been critical of two main areas this preseason. 1) The ability of the O-line (and team in general) to stay healthy, and 2) having the same RB by committee approach as last year. Well, it didn’t take long for both of those concerns to be validated. The Steelers have done nothing to improve this team, as I’ve said repeatedly, and while I don’t expect them to play as bad as they did yesterday, losing three guys for the season on opening day isn’t going to help their record this season.

    Tomlin can hide behind his aviator shades all he wants, and even throw a hissy fit on the sidelines, but I really hope that people start holding him to the “standard” he preaches about so frequently. Actions speak louder than words, MT, and what I saw yesterday was just disgusting in terms of preparation, execution and desire. A coach can’t go out there and run the plays, but they are supposed to have a team prepared and motivated. Maybe he can sit down with Redman and learn all about the type of passion and motivation it takes to earn a stat line that reads “8 carries/9 yards/2 fumbles.”

    Embarrassing.

  • srdan

    The biiig elephant in teh room is the lack of leadership on this team. I believe in MT but you need players as leaders as well. I think it’s evident that this team does not get ready to play. I agree with some of you that we can place a little of that blame on MT, but we lack a Joey Porter out there. After Polumalu makes a play where he dives over the line and tackles the qb before he can hand the ball off, someone needs to go and talk smack right after it. That same somebody needs to walk around pregame stretches and tell the browns how much they stink and maybe get in a fight every once in a while to get people to rally around him.

    So to my point, we lost our vocal leaders on both sides of the ball. And they werent that good. Pouncey is no Faneca and Fotte is no Porter. Time for someone to step up. Unless Colbert sees something I don’t, time to draft someone with some swagger onto this team.

    Oh and another thing. Steeler fans are the best in pro sports. Except for the fans that go to the game. Those people are lame. They sit there and don’t even cheer on 3rd down. I am a season ticket holder, the next person that tells me to sit down when I am cheering, i will smack them just like joey porter use to.

  • steeltown

    Agree.. been saying the same thing about the whole Redman /Dwyer situation..why would you waive the healthiest and most productive RB on roster???

  • ATL96STEELER

    The team needs a jolt early…whether they try to sign Dwyer or not, I would release Redman today.

    Alexander, get ready to play.

  • T R

    well he didnt laugh , looks like he coming back..

  • steeltown

    Alright here we go… Cody Wallace blocking for Alvestor Alexander.. watch out Cincinnati the Steelers are coming to town… terrible

  • JPDQ

    Yeah, saw that too. I assume you realize I was being sarcastic – of course you have to come back, if for no other reason than to put it on tape for next year when you can jump on with another team that actually values your contributions. I gotta wonder what his relationship is w/ Red. Interesting.

    I don’t think Dwyer is gonna light it up and run for 1500 yards, particularly behind this line in this scheme, but he should have been retained based on the fact that he was the most effective runner we had last year. Instead, we get MT’s stubborn love of Redman, no work in the preseason, and the guy comes out, looks rusty as hell and fumbles twice. These are the types of things coaches are supposed to be aware of and avoid.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Agree…but they haven’t had that guy in a while and the DEF has still performed okay…turnovers cost them the game yesterday…it’s pretty clear without Heath in the middle of the field Ben doesn’t have the outlet that he likes…threw decent balls on the edges to Sanders/Brown that a bigger player probably makes.

    RZ play has to be better, much keener focus on the details…MT needs to jar this team a bit…mistakes cost games, they should cost jobs.

    That said…Brown/Sanders/Wheaton is not going to scare many teams.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Can there be much more drop off in play?

  • JPDQ

    Tomlin picks and chooses when and who he sends a message to, instead of being consistent. Ironically, that is completely contradictory to his favorite cliche, “The standard is the standard.”

    No, Mike, it’s not – a standard applies to everybody, all at once, all the time. Not for one guy in this game, another guy this offseason, another guy in this quarter. Telling me that Felix Jones was a better choice than Dwyer, then refusing to use him after Red coughs up a pair of fumbles, THEN saying in the press conference that his lack of familiarity in the system because Jones is new is the definition of hypocrisy.

  • Soliciting Steelers

    Can’t release Redman he’s guaranteed $1.3M now remember? The same reason why Dwyer was cut in first place, they cut the wrong dude and there is no way Tomlin admits failure and brings back Dwyer

  • Soliciting Steelers

    Why would Dwyer take less $$ and run behind this group of walking turnstiles?!!

  • steeltown

    Agreed, the “put your hand in the pile” BS didn’t apply to Redman I guess, he didnt need to earn his spot or contribute in any way like the rest of the Team did… and im not hating on Redman, its some of the decision making going on that im upset with

  • srdan

    Joey was followed by Harrison. While he didn’t talk smack or get others ready, there was a swagger about him. And that is gone. Woodley, Polumalu, Clark and Timmons are great players, but lack swagger. My rebuttal to you would be that we have had leadership on defense by Harrison, but he is no J. Peezy in that department.

    Hopefully Jones is that player, i saw some of it at Georgia.

  • JPDQ

    Exactly. I’ve got no agenda defending Dwyer all the time except for the fact that I think it’s blatantly hypocritical of Tomlin. He needs to be held accountable for these types of things. Like I said in another comment, I think the tipping point is coming very, very soon when Tomlin is going to either pull this team together and come out stronger for it, or things are gonna fall apart. I’m honestly not sure which direction it will go, but if yesterday was any indication, then man… things are bad. You can’t play the way we did on offense yesterday and expect to win games even if you DO stay healthy– losing three guys for the season in your first game when you’re operating on such a thin margin of talent to begin with is just disastrous.

  • ATL96STEELER

    JH was more by example, but you’re right about that type of player…that’s why I think BAL is going to struggle some this year. This Steeler DEF is different, but I liked a lof of what I saw…Jones made a splash play very early…would like to see him around the LOS more than in coverage. Woodley looks quicker.

    The OL is going to take some time…w or w/o Pouncey that was going to be the case so I’m not too worried.

  • steeltown

    Update: They ARE re-signing Dwyer

  • Zack Adams

    He was sitting on his couch.

  • ATL96STEELER

    $1.3mil….not a lot of money, but enough for some shock value…that’s my point…that would be a jolt to the team…they need understand mistakes will not be tolerated this year.

  • T R

    sarcastic or not, i know you gotta feed family but i know it cross mind to say hell no… Running behind that line he might not make it to next season..

  • T R

    Right. Seats only in the stands so you can tie your shoe or eat a chicken finger for a second. Other then that. you should be standing and cheering at the game. if you going to see and want to enjoy a game stay at home and watch on tv. .Pissing me off when someone looking at you like you should sit down and its 3rd down and we need noise… Dont think anyone sits down in Seattle.

  • T R

    especially if Ben puts the damn ball in your hands and you cant catch a long bomb… Sanders drops was unacceptable.

  • T R

    dont make me cry again.

  • T R

    but he could get up and walk to refrigerator.. Come back and play for less money and he wont be able to afford a servant when that OL gets he laid out..

  • srdan

    I for one, am not as pessimistic as many on this forum. I saw this happen vs Baltimore in an opener a few years ago, actually i think it was more lobsided. I definetly agree on the defense. I finally saw Woodley torquing that knee again, and getting to the QB. I think we will get more pressure from our D line. Knowing that that is not their primary purpose, but a welcomed byproduct of lighter, quicker, younger dl.

    And I hate to be the one to say it, Pouncey is the most overrated Steeler. He is great in space, but head on he gets manhandled. Haloti and Geno abused him game in and out. I’m not saying that our “next man up” will be better, but the loss is not that devastating. Pouncey’s best year was his rookie, and he has in my eyes digressed. Injuries or not.

    Coaching: We quickly forget that the gameplan was to run the ball. Clearly we had injuries outside of the O line, to the point that they played an extra tackle because of the lack of a blocking TE. OUR GAME PLAN REVOLVED AROUND THIS. So let’s not be quick to forget the first drive of the game how quickly we got down the field and how well we executed. Until our entire gameplan was tossed out. All the plays they practiced all week were put in the trash. And please don’t give me the Plan B stuff, with a franchise QB, that is always your plan B. But our Oline gave him no room.

    So that is where my optimism starts and ends. We get Will johnson back, heath back and eventually spaeth. These additions(or subtractions in yesterdays case) can not be overlooked in this type of offense. Stay tuned!

    Oh, but the fans at Heinz field suck, FACE IT. Those people need to give their seats up and let real fans go to the game.

  • srdan

    Please watch the olineman during games, Pouncey is not that great. He get’s by on his name. To be honest, i just don’t see the effort out of him. I wore a pouncey jersey yesterday btw, that I bought his rookie season.

    A “great” olineman, makes other around him much better. Our oline has stunk since he has been drafted. Let’s wait and see. Legursky played well when he came in for Pouncey. I will reiterate my earlier post. I don’t think that this is a grave loss. Look at steelersdepot olineman rankings throughout the preseason. He consistently rated in the lower half.

  • conan

    Todd Haley has got to go it Pitt’s offense doesnt pick it up. Plain and simple he has to design around the weak, weak offensive line. Thou its not his fault that ppl like Emmanuel Sanders drop 40 yard passes that can put us up 9-0

  • Mike Popovich

    Redman looked pretty consistent with his career stats, I’m not sure where Tomlin can confidently claim that his overall body of work warranted being named the starter coming into camp, and certainly with only 2 carries during the first preseason game, being named after final cuts. Redman is a camp warrior and nothing more.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Pouncey…I agree…he hasn’t played at a probowl level in 2 yrs.

    Injuries…yea, it was a lot to absorb in one game, but I think the OFC will be better next week…Haley was not really consistent with the game plan, but when Redman put 2 on the ground and thus taken away from him, LSH was hurt, pretty had no choice but to go to plan B.

  • conan

    srdan i like your thinking bro

  • Mike Popovich

    “im not hating on Redman, its some of the decision making going on that im upset with”

    I think this is exactly how I feel and am increasingly becoming more frustrated with. I don’t hate Redman, in fact, I said a number of times that its not Dwyer I hate, its not Redman I hate, its Redman & Dwyer I hate. I don’t care which plays, but holy crap pick one, but given that they are both powerbacks, they don’t and shouldn’t be splitting 12 carries a game.

    When you look at the week 7-9 stretch last year, both of these backs demonstrated that with 17+ carries with 100+ yard games, they can carry the load. It wasn’t until after week 10 through the rest of the year that we saw the RB by committee approach and offense began only running 12-17 times a game, with both players getting about 1/2 the carries. It doesn’t work with the personel. It just wouldn’t make sense to try and split 15 carries between Jerome Bettis and a Ron Dayne, so how would this make sense last year with Dwyer and Redman?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, as T R mentioned below, this was not about Redman, but about LASH, who will be on injured reserve shortly I’m sure. I’m personally a big fan of Redman and his performance in the first game did not dampen my belief that he can still be a quality starting running back in this league if necessary, and I would expect him to continue to start while Bell is out.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I’m not sure if you’re actually being serious, but “doing something” about the offensive line has been their main focus over the past few years, including bringing in four high-pedigreed linemen in the draft and going through two different offensive line coaches. Just because it hasn’t come together yet doesn’t mean that they haven’t “done something about it”, nor does it mean that it won’t come together. It’s one game.