Any time a National Football League team makes its final cuts to get down to the mandatory roster limit of 53 there are bound to be some surprises. Jonathan Dwyer to most Steelers’ fans was that surprise when the team made their cuts yesterday afternoon.
Fans will wonder how a team can cut previous years’ leading rusher and that’s normal. They’ll also wonder why the guy who has run pretty well in the preseason was cut and that’s normal. With Le’Veon Bell still on the bench with his foot injury, fans will wonder how you cut the ‘next man up’ and that’s normal too.
Dwyer was cut for numerous reasons and the two fumbles this preseason played a part but they don’t tell the whole story. When the Steelers traded outside linebacker Adrian Robinson to the Eagles for Felix Jones, most saw the move as being just about depth but there was another motive as well.
Despite under-achieving through most of his career, Jones fits the blocking scheme better than Dwyer does and provides a home run threat every time he touches the ball. He also is an option to return kicks where he may seem time as well.
Going back over some of Dwyer’s carries during the preseason, another factor loomed large in his dismissal from the team. He struggles to find the right cutbacks and relies on his speed way too often to make plays. Rather than turn a run inside behind a block, he tries to bounce things outside way too often. Unless you have ludicrous speed (Spaceballs’ fans will enjoy that term) you just can’t do that in the NFL and expect to get away with it.
Keep in mind too that Dwyer has just a one-year deal right now. Should he have gone ahead and had good year, the Steelers would have been faced with a difficult decision about re-signing him. They wanted nothing to do with that because of Dwyer’s constant battle with his weight. He came into camp about 20 pounds lighter than last year, but he was also 30 plus pounds or so overweight when he showed up in the spring.
The Steelers can’t invest in a guy battling that issue. What would he do once he made more money?
The bottom line is that Felix Jones is a better fit than Jonathan Dwyer is in the Steelers’ offense. If fumbles were really the deciding factor then consider Dwyer has two career fumbles during the regular season and Jones? He has 12.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.