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.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – FB Will Johnson
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Brett Keisel
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – NT Steve McLendon
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Cameron Heyward
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB LaMarr Woodley
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB Jason Worilds
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Lawrence Timmons
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – ILB Vince Williams
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB Ike Taylor
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – CB William Gay
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – S Troy Polamalu
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – S Ryan Clark
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Jerricho Cotchery

  • steeltown

    Please sign this guy. He’ll be affordable, he has experience and he also now contributes on special teams. He played last season with a lot of intensity and physicality.. and he’s still only 24yrs old

  • Virdin Barzey

    I like Dwyer from day one. I didn’t follow him in college but as many has alluded to, he reminded me of the Bus, the mini version. That comparison is no longer in my book. Not fair to either guy. Nevertheless, I have been disappointed with Dwyer as have the coaching staff in which they released him.

    Seemed like it was a real wake up call because he’s been good since rejoining the team. Just think he needed to learn on how to be a professional. We need to sign him since he’s cheap. Hopefully this new RB coach can help him with his vision. That’s really the only issue I have with the guy. I don’t mind his weight so much but I think it hinders him unlike the Bus.

    Hope to see him back. For a man who was the odd man out, he did a great job working his way back in. He also got real lucky. Hope he remembers that and takes another step forward.


    He’s a 4 yr player now so he won’t be extremely cheap, but if he embraces the back up role with the same vigor as LY…I’d love to have him back…still need a quick hitting RB to get a small pkg of plays.

  • Steve

    As Matt pointed out

  • dgh57

    He’s a serviceable backup at the RB position who if not resigned may end up costing us a draft pick if not brought back. He has showed some growth in his maturity over the 2012 season, knows the offense, and will only be 25 when the 2014 season starts so I see him as worthy of being resigned.

  • Milliken Steeler

    He’s the only guy who I believe for three years running now, has a 4.0 ypc. I don’t see him getting worse, but only better.

  • PA2AK

    I still don’t understand anyone’s reasoning as to why he was the low man in a Redman/Jones/Dwyer totem pole. All things considered (cost, age, potential, contribution, etc.)…the handling of the RB situation last year was very odd to me.

  • PA2AK

    isn’t he already at vet min? after they released him, didn’t they bring him back at the min?

  • Steve

    Right now Dwyer is a free agent. In Matts write up above he says the Steelers made a mistake last year by signing Dwyer before the draft, because if they waited until after the draft they could have got him for the vet minimum.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Sign him up, as he’s relatively inexpensive, and can run well when he gets some blocking. Hell, he even gets it now, with the added ST work. I even preferred him getting that 1 KR return, as at least he had the chance of running over someone.

    As opposed to Felix Jones — Man he’s got to go! He has got to be the least explosive returner the NFL has seen in decades, and he did not even perform when called upon as a backup. Keep the cheaper, better option.

  • PA2AK

    i get that. what I meant is after that when he was cut…then resigned after week 1 (or two?).

  • Steve

    After Dwyer was cut he was resigned to the Vet Minimum.

  • Patrick Reid

    Really liked Dwyers approach when we resigned him. Always seemed to go full bore. If we can get him back for cheap would love to have him. I am however open potential late round upgrade Antonio Andrews from WKU. Also, I really wanna see what Poole from the futures group can contribute. In either case we need to draft DAT or Archer as a speed weapon who can contribute at WR/RB/KR. For that reason I would love to keep Dwyer or Poole so we don’t burn two draft picks on RB’s.

  • shawn

    amen … unemployment changed his tune fast … liked his play

  • steeltown

    Very much so, the whole Redman thing especially… every other player (except the highly paid veterans) has to earn their roster spot and position on the depth chart, whereas Redman was just given the starting job and that was after missing basically the entire preseason. Its’ dumbfounding really.


    I hadn’t thought about it until I read your comment, but I agree and now think that may have had something to do with the moving on of Kirby Wilson.

  • PA2AK

    add in that Redman also left yards on the field, had his fumble problems, but was old and has dealt with a few injuries in the past…

  • PA2AK

    Well I hadn’t thought about that! Good point. Wonder how much of those decisions were his call or if he vocally disagreed with whoever made them?

  • steeltown

    Pending how much he factored into the decision making, one would have to think