Part 1: Running the Ball
To me, Dwyer has the capability to be a starting running back in this league. When I watched his film at Georgia tech, I thought he could potentially be something important one day on the Steelers offense. Last season, he showed flashes, but I didn’t see enough to say he is the Steelers guy. When I went back and watched all of Dwyer’s snaps in 2012, I saw many positives. He is deceptively fast for a 230 lb running back. He can accelerate and beat some defenders, but I wouldn’t put him anywhere near a guy with Mendenhall’s speed. He is quicker than you would think, but he is also a bowling ball of a running back. After gaining 229 yards against the Bengals and Redskins, he was drawing comparisons to none other than Jerome Bettis himself. Like Bettis, he can run through defenders with his large frame, and he has decent balance, so he does not go down with arm tackles.
While Dwyer flashed some positives, he had his fair share of negatives as well. He will not fake out any defenders, and he is slow when moving laterally. A few times I saw him get caught from behind as well. If he wants to become Bettis even more, he needs to learn to run lower, and lower his shoulders into defenders more. While he does have some holes in his game, below I have broken down a play where he shows many positives against the Redskins.
For this play in the first quarter, the Steelers will be running a play to the left, showing by the way the Steelers offensive line will be blocking/stepping. Heath Miller’s job is to crack down on the defensive end, sealing the edge. Dwyer will initially go towards his left, but then cut back to the right.
Roethlisberger hands the ball to Dwyer as Dwyer scans what is going on in front of him. He sees seven defenders inside the box, with most of them going towards their right side. The outside linebacker is getting up field over by Starks, so Dwyer sees his window closing to his left.
Dwyer decides to cut back, as he plants his left foot in the ground. The defensive back, highlighted by the yellow circle, is watching Roethlisberger while keeping his eyes on Dwyer. Dwyer has a small window of opportunity that he needs to exploit if he wants to gain positive yardage.
With a majority of the defenders to his left, Dwyer begins to sprint upfield with the safety as well as the linebacker London Fletcher hot on his heels.
Since Dwyer is not one of the fastest backs you will find, four defenders end up catching up with him. At this point, the play looks like it will be coming to an end for Dwyer.
After shaking off one defender, Dwyer is carrying another with him. Dwyer continues to keep his legs churning, and with the help of his strong legs and good balance, Dwyer becomes much more difficult to bring down.
After a long gain, Dwyer finally is brought down for a 33 yard gain after carrying a defender on his back for several yards. I enjoyed watching this play several times because it reminded me a lot of “The Bus” and how he would carry defenders with him for more yards.
Another thing I noticed about Dwyer’s game was his vision. Dwyer would often find holes that would open up a few seconds after the play had broken down. He was good at cutting back, as shown by his touchdown against the Ravens in week 13.
To me, Dwyer’s biggest downfall is his inability to be a home run threat. Defenses are not as scared that he might take it all the way the moment he finds space. Willie Parker put this fear of them, and even Mendenhall did. Dwyer does not have the ability to turn on the jets, and kick it in, but he does a fine job of moving the chains.