Jonathan Dwyer Has Got It

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He’s still the youngest running back in the running back meeting room that meets with Steelers RB coach Kirby Wilson. That despite this being his third year in the league. He’s had battles with his weight, and problems with his conditioning, yet he may well be the most instinctive back in that room, on a par with Rashard Mendenhall.

After the pre-season finale against Carolina, where he added another 63 yards on thirteen carries to pad his team leading rushing total to 147 yards on 28 carries with a nice 5.3 rushing average, Jonathan Dwyer has staked a claim to toting the pig’s bladder when the Steelers hit the “Rocky Mountain High” that Denver is currently experiencing in the advent of the Peyton Manning era.

Jonathan has had an outstanding pre-season. But it didn’t just happen in the games. Jon-boy got his weight where he wanted and got serious about his conditioning. There was a new found confidence and seriousness to his attitude and preparation. In other words, the young buck “got it,” as we old-timers like to say and the light came on for him. In lay terms, he’s matured.

What really intrigues me about Jonathan is his vision, the innate ability to anticipate the hole or cut before it’s actually there, his instinctive movement within the flow of a play, and how he has what Tunch Ilkin refers to as “pitter-patter” feet.

Thursday night against the Panthers Jonathan had a run on what we used to call a 15-straight. It’s a play where the back presses the frontside LT and cuts off his block. Jonathan started left, then cut it all the way back to the outside of the right tackle ripping a 15-20-yard gain. But it was his vision and awareness where he turned his head all the way to the backside before he stopped pressing the keester of the LT and then made the cut. That takes some confidence in knowing what you’re doing.

Ona another run earlier in the pre-season we got a glimpse of Dwyer’s innate movement within the flow of a play where he turned a run from a one or two yard loss into a four-five yard gain. In that quick little run, he cut back into the posse of defenders and ducked and weaved his way through three guys to get a positive run out of nothing. All that bobbing and weaving Jon did reminds me of a boxer, sitting in the pocket of his opponent (right in front of the guy) and making his opponent miss by creating movement without seemingly moving. Kind of a zen-thing.

And finally, Tunch Ilkin first described this to me as we were in a munch session and talking turkey. Jonathan’s got tapping shoes-type feet. He pitter-patters, rarely takes a direct hit with just one foot in the air and seems to be grounded on two feet when he makes contact. Think of Dwyer being the opposite of the long-striding Willie Parker.

Jon’s ability as a pass-catcher, as he demonstrated in Buffalo, will no doubt add to his attractiveness in getting some game time. But what i thought he showed even more promise is in his pass blocking. Starting with the first “Backs-on-Backers” drill up at camp, Jonathan displayed a new found willingness to stick his nose right in the mush of a hard charging linebacker.

Yeah, i think Jonathan Dwyer has got it.