It has been a roller coaster of a few months for Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Jonathan Dwyer. After being trusted with a big role in the offense in 2012, head coach Mike Tomlin and Co. decided to revamp their staff by adding second round draft choice Le'Veon Bell. The team released him before the start of the 2013 season, which marked a dark point in the third-year back's career.
He didn't sign with any other team, however, and was brought back after a season-ending injury to La'Rod Stephens-Howling, as well as foot injury to Bell. Last week, the Steelers offense plodded to a nine-point performance, complete with 31 yards on the ground and zero first downs by running the ball. Ouch.
Tomlin is giving Dwyer a second chance on Monday night, coupling him with Isaac Redman, who struggled mightily last week against the Titans. Though Tomlin has committed to giving Redman the start against the Bengals, the thought is that Dwyer will get his opportunities. Though he is happy to be back with the Steelers, Dwyer is playing with a chip oin his shoulder and is eager to prove that the Pittsburgh staff made the wrong decision in releasing him just a couple of weeks ago.
Dwyer is a bigger back at 5'11" and 230 pounds, but has quick feet. In 2012, he rushed for 623 yards at four yards a clip. His best game as a pro, you ask? You guessed it: last year's Sunday night performance against the Bengals when he rushed for 122 yards at over seven yards per pop. You can bet that the Steelers and Dwyer have been looking at that tape this week.
It's also a safe bet to assume that Mike Zimmer and the Bengals defensive unit has been watching the same tape this week, along with last week's abhorrent performance against Tennessee. And though Redman is getting the start, Tomlin is likely reluctant to trust him much this week after he fumbled the ball twice last week. Enter Dwyer.
If the Bengals want a chance to win this Monday night, they will need to follow the Titans' formula for success and stop the run. Forcing the Steelers to be one-dimensional will allow the defensive line to tee off on a hurting Pittsburgh offensive line. All of this will be possible if the Bengals key on Dwyer and keep him contained.