When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for running back Felix Jones midway through the preseason, it was obvious that there was going to be a surprise cut in the backfield once the roster was cut down to 53 players. Many predictions were made, but when the Steelers made it official, it was Jonathan Dwyer who was given his walking papers.
Dwyer led the Steelers in rushing in 2012 and seemed to be on the road to improving from last season. The fourth-year veteran entered training camp approximately 30 pounds lighter and better conditioned than the prior year. Dwyer’s performance in the preseason actually proved that his hard work paid off as he rushed for 136 yards, averaging four yards per carry.
Unfortunately, the rash of injuries to Pittsburgh’s offensive backfield led to the organization’s decision to trade for Jones. In addition, the production that Jones displayed on the field with a limited amount of time to get acquainted to the Steelers’ playbook worked against Dwyer as well.
Although there is a logical explanation for keeping Jones over Dwyer, I believe that Pittsburgh should have stayed with Dwyer. Looking at the situation, the Steelers would have started the regular season with a running back-by-committee approach no matter who Pittsburgh decided to keep on the depth chart with rookie Le’Veon Bell sidelined.
The offense would have been better off going with the back who had a full year of playing in the offensive scheme under his belt. Jones has had roughly a week and a half of familiarity with the playbook leading up to the preseason finale. Despite Jones’ success in that short amount of time, I believe that Dwyer would have been the better alternative simply because he knows the system better.
Since Dwyer is no longer in the Steel City, it looks like some other team will benefit from his services.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+