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Mike Tomlin Explains Why Jonathan Dwyer Was The Odd Man Out At Running Back


The Pittsburgh Steelers waived running back Jonathan Dwyer over the weekend and head coach Mike Tomlin was asked Tuesday during his press conference if something outside of football led to the team parting ways with their former sixth-round draft pick.

"No, it was really about what we thought the other guys could give us," said Tomlin. Obliviously we drafted and acquired Le'Veon Bell in the second round and he has that type of pedigree. Isaac Redman has done some nice things situationally for us in short-yardage and goal-line.

"LaRod Stephens-Howling has really consistent hands and showed some third down capabilities and Felix Jones - first-round pedigree - and quickly proved that he can do some positive things in terms of running the football and placing the ball where it's supposed to go.

"So we based our decisions based on what we see and what guys do and we like the guys that we kept and really, our focus is on those guys."

There has been a lot of speculation since Dwyer was released and it has included talk about his lack of commitment to his conditioning. While Tomlin didn't come right out and say it, Dwyer just wasn't good enough to beat out Isaac Redman for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart and being as he was scheduled to earn $1.323 million this year, the team had no choice but to waive him.

Tomlin also seemed to take a shot at Dwyer when he said that Felix Jones is putting the ball where it is supposed to go thus far during his short time on the roster. Dwyer, as I have pointed out several times during the preseason, wasn't great at reading his blocks and finding the right running lanes.

In addition, Dwyer was nothing more than an average power runner without any upside. He was not great out of the backfield as a receiver and certainly not a big contributor on special teams in addition. The decision was an easy one for the coaches to make with Dwyer and I am sure they haven't lost any sleep over it since making it.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • StrengthOfVictory

    Turnovers absolutely KILLED the Steelers last season. That’s got to be a huge factor here, too.

    You have to believe the coaching staff was approaching things a bit from a “fool me once/fool me twice” point of view when it comes to fumbles, and both Dwyer and Mendy had become fumble liabilities. If the Steelers stood pat with their backfield and expected better/different, shame on them. Thankfully, they didn’t, so here’s hoping the Steelers HANG ONTO THE ROCK in 2013!

  • Dwayne Ferguson

    I would buy this logic if Jones didn’t have a history of turning over the ball and injury. I think Redman over Dwyer was a god idea… but if the decision was ever Jones over Dwyer I would have second thoughts.
    Still not the biggest deal…. I look forward to seeing what Bell and Howling can do in a real game.

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. I think fumbles ultimately did him in during the preseason, they were emphasizing ball security during camp.. saying that Redman is better than Dwyer just simply isn’t true, not in all facets

    Regardless, I agree with Tomlin’s assessment and I am excited to have the stable we have, Le’veon should be a good all around RB, Redman is a short yardage pounder, LSH is a quick shifty guy with good hands and return capability and Felix is pretty much a bigger LSH with good NFL starting experience

  • Eric

    Shorter version HC Unleash Hell “I F’N Hated Him”

  • Dan

    I think the Fumble-bowl in Cleveland last year also sticks in the all the coaches’ minds. Everybody who coughed it up in that games started with a strike against them. And so we have mostly new guys this year. If Dwyer hadn’t fumbled this preseason he might still be on the roster. As it happened, Redman was out of action and so didn’t fumble and didn’t get cut. But I’m not sure it’s fair to say Redman is a better runner than Dwyer. Although I agree there are plenty of instances where Dwyer simply didn’t pick the best running lane or make the correct cut. It may also be that Redman looked better in practices. At any rate, it should be a fun season (if our O-line does well.)

  • Douglas Andrews

    While I am a Dwyer fan i agree that he did it to himself this off season…35lbs overweight poor work ethic showing up late for meetings and then the fumble problems. I think he’s a better RB than Redman but with all those issues it’s hard to argue with the decision to cut him. Hopefully Bell comes back healthy n becomes our feature back which would make this pretty much a non issue of the #2 RB. Really don’t think Felix had anything to do with them cutting Dwyer, if so they had a chance at Felix in the off season and couldve released Dwyer then. I believe the coaching staff gave Dwyer every opportunity to show what he could do and he didnt seize it, Weight issues and poor work ethic after first year okay thats something to work on but after year 2, and going into year 3..thats’s a no no. Good luck to him

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Dave. Just wanted to tip my hat to you. You were right about the Steelers getting rid of Dwyer (from the beginning).

    Now let me be clear. I still disagree with the decision. But you were more dialed into the Steelers coaches than I was.

    Of course, I was right about Baron Batch being cut. So I guess we’re even. :)

  • Pete

    I too have to admit that you were right Dave about the possibility of Dwyer getting canned. As a fan I obviously don’t see what the coaches see, the work ethic, conducting himself like a professional, all those things. Obviously he didn’t perform to their expectations.

    I’m still not a fan of Felix “Bust” Jones and being a Steelers fan, I don’t want to see him perform poorly. But I don’t expect him to perform better than he has the past 5 years. It says something that he most likely wouldn’t have made the Eagles team and yet Tomlin is talking about him like he’s a 1st round proven elite veteran. As though the Cowboys and Eagles made a mistake. We’ll see. I hope the O line gives Redman a chance to tear it up.

  • Bilge

    Felix Jones will be lucky to get 5 carries a game, unless he tears the field up.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Also a Dwyer fan but he’s clearly having a vision problem…not seeing the holes, not seeing screen passes, and not seeing it’s time to step away from the table.

    He was a lock over until Felix Jones took his spot last Thursday while saving the Steelers $500,000. Seems small, but it’s really not.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    No way was Batch ever goinig to make squad over Dwyer, but Dwyer’s stock dropped while Felix Jones became available…

  • Kolie Oak

    Hopefully this decision won’t backfire against Tomlin.
    Bell, LaRod, and Redman have already been injured, and are obviously injury prone.
    Felix is the only healthy back we have, and from what I’ve heard he’s injury prone too!!!!

  • dgh57

    Dwyer did a poor job of protecting Big Ben in the passing game during the preseason. Poor work ethics/conditioning, no vision, fumbles, avg. receiver, not a power runner so everything you don’t want in a RB he has!

    Don’t get me wrong I used to like Dwyer until he came to the OTAs overweight.

  • Mark P

    Let us hope they did not “obliviously” draft anybody.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Yeah Dwyer has alot room for growth. The cap savings as you said was only 500,000 but if you gain a RB w/o all the issues Dwyer had they i have to say that’s a win.

  • Bob Graff

    Ok i can see where the Steelers are going with this group. Are any of these guys injury prone??? What are there recent history as far as production??? All i’m saying is unproven o-line + shaky RB situation = power running attack everyone knows that right.

  • daddeeekip

    Bottom line is this, Dwyer does not fit the system that they are turning too. Whether Felix Jones is better or not is a mute point cause he fits the system better plus gives a home run threat and ST play. The two fumbles didn’t help his cause either, as much as I like Dwyer and wanted him to succeed with the Steelers. The fact remains his conditioning, his lack of wanting to be the no.1 RB, fumbles and his inconsistencies running the ball. One play he loomed like the Bus and next play looked like a bad version of Mendenhal.

  • Gautama Om

    I had Dwyer pegged to be cut before preseason. Not just because of the price tag but most notably he can’t catch out the the backfield and has ZERO burst or acceleration to get to the 2nd level quick. Not to mention laziness and obviously inability to concentrate from his medical condition.The “poor vision” was somewhat of a revelation this preseason but he had so much limitations already.

  • Mike Amaro

    I agree with you I just think the major factor between Dwyer and Jones is Jones came a lot cheaper.

  • walter mason

    Another Adderall player cut. Im just glad we kept Redman.

  • JPDQ

    Man, you guys seriously need to stop buying everything Tomlin and Steelers Depot sells you at the sheep market.

    Turnovers? Dwyer had two fumbles last year in 156 carries. Redman? Guess how many he had? Two, in 110 carries. Jones fumbled once in 111 carries. Not exactly great stats to back up the argument that Dwyer somehow fumbled more than those guys.

    Conditioning? You’ve got to be kidding me. Hampton came into camp every other year 20 pounds overweight. Woodley? Please. You think we haven’t had O-lineman come in heavy after an offseason? They all get down to weight for the first game, just like Dwyer did last year when he led the team in rushing. Nobody cares when the season starts.

    Health? Well, Dwyer was healthy enough and the coaches thought enough of him last season to give him the ball 46 more times than the next guy (Redman).

    Let’s see, what other excuse was there? Oh, his “lack of desire”… I’m not sure there’s anything anybody can point to that validates Redman or Felix Jones having a greater “desire” to play better than Dwyer. Unless you count Redman’s desire to excel as a “goal line specialist” (which never materialized) and Jones’ desire to be a first round bust. Come on.

    Vision? Ok, maybe Dwyer doesn’t see the field as well as some
    other guys, particularly in a new blocking scheme. That’s about the
    only legit reason I can see as a knock against him. But Tomlin needs to
    come out and say that and stop holding the other guys up like they are superior backs, because there’s nothing on the stat sheet that supports that.

    Is Felix Jones cheaper? Ok, maybe he is by a minimal amount. But hey, don’t let that cloud the reality that Felix Jones was drafted in the first round but couldn’t crack the top 3 in the Eagles backfield. It’s more important to field a team of guys that will play for cheap, right? Like Felix Jones, William Gay, and Matt Spaeth.

    I know it sounds like I’m a Dwyer cheerleader, but I really have no allegiance to this particular player other than the fact that he was so obviously wronged and made a scapegoat for issues that Tomlin and the front office have been just as, if not more, responsible for. Tomlin didn’t like the guy, that’s why he was cut, and now Tomlin is using his best politician’s rhetoric to justify it. And for all the talk, I see very, very little to make me think that this year’s team has made any significant strides from last year’s mediocrity.

    And now we have confirmation that we’ll be using the “running back by committee” again in 2013. Can’t wait for that!

  • JPDQ

    You’re right, it’s not true. Stats don’t lie, and as I pointed out above, Dwyer and Redman both fumbled twice last season. And Redman did it in 46 fewer carries.

    We don’t know what Bell can do. Guy might be great, but all the hype is completely unfounded at this point. Gotta be healthy to get on the field.

    We’ll let it play out and see what the record and rushing stats say at the end of the season, but unless Bell gets healthy and stays that way, I don’t see much of an improvement over what we had last year. Prove me wrong, guys.

  • treeher

    I don’t compare Red with Dwyer. They are different runners. I’d compare Bell with Dwyer and it was a no brainer to keep Bell. Combo of Red and Dwyer way too expensive for what you get. Wait until you see the 2013 runners hit those holes created by our two first rounders and two second rounders and you’ll see that we are greatly improved from last year.

  • PA2AK

    I agree with everything outside of the last two conclusions. I think they have added some OK peices, more importantly lost bad peices, and most importantly they have gelled in key places. I think the team is better. We’ll see about the coaching. I also think they are going to throw all their eggs in one basket with Bell once healthy. We will see though. Would like to see Coach T use the same discipline/standards/values that he speaks of so often and use them when he’s actually coaching. Preparation for the upcoming game is a two way street, but how the mistakes are handled in games usually come down to coaches decisions…this is where T looks sub-par.

    Lastly, rather than seeing a simpleton vote down your analysis, I would also like to see someone debate those points.

  • JPDQ

    I appreciate the comments PA2AK. Most folks would rather just “vote down” somebody that’s being critical of their beloved team. Especially when they make reasonable points. Hey, I love the Steelers too, but I can’t stand the double-talk from Tomlin and the increasingly questionable decision-making in personnel changes, clock and game management, and general lack of accountability for overall performance.

    Sitting there in a post-game conference and saying, “We acknowledge and accept responsibility for this loss” rings hollow with me. Good teams with good leaders don’t play down to the competition on a regular basis, if ever. The O-Line personifies this to a “T,” no pun intended. In general, I think Tomlin has done a poor job with replacing coaches and players, and I feel like it’s gonna continue this season.

    But the REAL question is, “For how long?”

  • PA2AK

    I also think that Tomlin’s decision making is largely impacted by Art II. Likely more so than we will ever know. T has had some decisions made for him, in spite of his wishes. That didn’t happen (or appear to) when Dan or the Chief were running things. That said, the in game decision smells are ALL Tomlin’s

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