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Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Jonathan Dwyer

By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Jonathan Dwyer

Position: Running Back

Experience: 4 Years

Prior to the draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers made the mistake of signing Jonathan Dwyer to a restricted free agent tender, instead of allowing him to hit free agency and signing him to a veteran-minimum deal.

That is the same thing that they ended up doing with Stevenson Sylvester, which proved to be fortuitous. I say it was a mistake because it resulted in the team spending the offseason looking for a cheaper alternative when it suddenly dawned on them that they were paying nearly $3 million to two players to be a backup.

As evidenced later, there was no market for Dwyer when he was finally released—no market, that is, other than the Steelers, who suddenly needed a running back with Le’Veon Bell still healing and LaRod Stephens-Howling tearing his ACL in the opening week.

Dwyer was outperformed by Felix Jones during the preseason, for whom they traded in order to push Dwyer (off the roster). While Dwyer struggled to find the right holes and left yardage on the field, in addition to fumbling, Jones showed enough speed to suggest that he could get to the edge on outside zone runs, which is what the Steelers were looking for at the time.

So it was that Dwyer found himself unemployed for the first time in his NFL career, ironically at a point in time in which he was at his fittest and most dedicated. The hope now is that he will be a more professional player from here on out, and nothing that he did since being re-signed indicated otherwise.

In fact, Dwyer ended up in essence starting in the third week of the season because Isaac Redman had suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff. Though he carried 12 times, he only managed 39 yards behind an offensive line still reeling from the loss of Maurkice Pouncey and searching for its identity.

For the rest of the season, Dwyer served as the third-down and short-yardage back, occasionally also entering as a change of pace, which was primarily Jones’ role. He served these roles effectively, averaging close to 4.4 yards per carry following the bye to the end of the season.

He was also the team’s best option in pass protection, though Bell was generally left to handle that job. Where Bell was clearly better, however, was as a receiver. Dwyer caught eight passes for 64 yards, but he also dropped another pass, and some that he did catch were not fielded cleanly, limiting progress after the catch.

Dwyer served as the up back on kick returns for most of the season, and later also played on the punt return team, neither of which were jobs he would be expected to do earlier in his career, which just goes to show that he has a greater sense of humility regarding his position now. Overall, he handled both fairly well, though he had a greater learning curve with the latter responsibility.

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