Last Sunday Jonathan Dwyer became the first Steelers running back with two consecutive games with over a hundred rushing yards since Willie Parker in 2008. The injuries to both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman have allowed Dwyer the opportunity to take advantage of the offensive line finally clicking in terms of their blocking scheme. Dwyer’s style of run is reminiscent of The Bus, with his big frame and quick feet. With the horrid start the Steelers rushing game had in the beginning of the season, have the Steelers found their new starting back in Dwyer or do the keys to the rushing attack go back into the hands of Mendy and Redman when healthy?
Us yinzers love us some big, burly, hard hitting running backs and we find it necessary to have an established running game. Although, few of us will admit that as long as the Steelers get the W, it doesn’t really matter if there were 3 or 300 rushing yards listed in the stats. Although the Steelers have maintained a sizeable advantage in time of possession through their first seven games, the rushing yards up until the last two games have been hard to come by. Even Dwyer will credit the offensive line with the reason the running game has gotten legs so to speak, but it’s clear that Dwyer’s rushing style is a whole different animal compared to those of Mendy and Redman.
Both Dwyer and Redman agreed that when Mendy is able to return to full strength, the starting job should be his again. But, when asked about the upcoming game against the Giants Dwyer said he’d like to play.
“I just want to play in general, it’s not even about all the yards and all that, I just want to keep playing.”
After Dwyer was able to rush for 122 yards against the Bungles, the average overreacting fan would have easily said the starting job belonged to him. Fortunately for Dwyer, the injury situation worked in his favor for the Redskins game and he was able to take the ball again. This week, Mendy has been limited to individual work in practice and is not likely to dress for Sunday’s game against the Giants. Redman, however, has returned to practice with Dwyer being held out a bit to rest his quad. The Giants are allowing an average of 113 rushing yards a game and 4.6 yards per carry.
I don’t think it’s overreacting at this point to say in my opinion, I think you give Dwyer the ball as long as you can. Nothing against Mendy or Redman at all, just what’s there to lose from keeping the ball in Dwyer’s hands and see where he can go with it? I have my doubts Mendy can return to full health this season at all. His Achilles injury has sidelined him from what was already a mighty early return from last season’s ACL injury and if we were all prepared to give Redman the ball after he put up 121 yards on Denver in the playoff game then what’s the issue with Dwyer earning the spot after back to back 100+ performances? It is important to note that all three will be free agents at the end of this season. Mendy will be an unrestricted free agent and both Redman and Dwyer will be restricted free agents. I say we see how well this Todd Haley offense can keep improving with Dwyer rushing the ball. He might just end up being the best back for the job. I’m not ready to proclaim Dwyer the next Jerome Bettis yet, but if he’s the only back on the roster that can accumulate quality yards on a consistent basis so far this season let’s see how far he can go. What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation?
Follow me on Twitter @Kimmy_KimKimM and follow all of NPC’s posts @NicePickCowherC