The start to the 2013 NFL season didn’t quite go as planned for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer. Even after leading the team in rushing during the 2012 season and in the following preseason, and after a rash of injuries to the Steelers’ backfield, the organization decided to make a trade for running back Felix Jones. This move led to Pittsburgh cutting Dwyer while forming the original 53-man roster for the 2013 campaign.
The unfortunate season-ending injury to running back LaRod Stephens-Howling forced the Steelers to re-sign Dwyer as the team’s fourth-string running back. Now Dwyer is the team’s third-string back since Pittsburgh released Isaac Redman.
There’s no doubt that rookie running back Le’Veon Bell is the team’s feature back, but there should be a change made further down the depth chart. Throughout the season, Both Dwyer and Jones have put up similar numbers. Dwyer has carried the ball 29 times for 139 yards, while Jones has carried the ball 35 times for 128 yards.
Though their numbers are close, I do see some glaring differences between the two. First, Dwyer’s average per carry (4.8) looks much more impressive than Jones’ (3.7). In addition, Dwyer has ripped off a 30-yard run from scrimmage this year (the team’s longest run of the year so far). And aside from the numbers, Dwyer looks to be the more explosive of the two backs, and has converted on some big third downs for the Steelers this season.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been the main reason for the running game’s lackluster performance this year. However, even behind a porous O-line, Dwyer has proved to be a productive runner and should be used more in the backfield for the reminder of the season. He should be ahead of Jones on the Steelers’ depth chart.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+