Steelers running game can't get worse, and that's a good thing

Justin K. Aller

There's a huge benefit to having a game center who's been prepared to play significant snaps. The Steelers will have that in Week 2, when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals.

Which is it?

Jonathan Dwyer represents a mistake the coaches and front office are willing to admit, and he will be the shot in the arm an offense that needs much more than just medicine to climb out of a funk?

Or:

Jonathan Dwyer is the odd-man-out of a running back rotation that managed 32 yards, fumbled twice and was otherwise a contributor to a significantly negative running game?

Can it be both? Is it good for it to be both?

There are far more questions than answers in regards to the Steelers' decision to re-sign Dwyer, and not all of it is about Dwyer. On the positive side, his pass protection will have to be better than the efforts of Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Considering the Titans brought pressure in the same quantity in which they brought Gatorade to Heinz Field.

On the other hand, it seems strange Dwyer would sign with the Steelers - considering they just cut him and he had full opportunity to make good on his Twitter-based promise of "making them pay for it."

It's a fair assumption that some kind of playing time agreement was brokered, convincing him to sign. Maybe that includes the starting job until rookie Le'Veon Bell returns to the field. Maybe that's a few more games still.

We can probably create these kinds of "what-ifs" as a means to distract us from one of the most painful Steelers losses in recent memory. The fact of the matter is Walter Payton probably wouldn't have rushed for 40 yards a game behind the scheme in which the Steelers ran Sunday. Abandoning much of the balleyhooed zone scheme for Redman's alleged power brought results that somehow were worse than they were last season.

If Dwyer is the answer here, the question is far more of a concern that we might have previous anticipated.

But that's just the negative. Add in the fact the Steelers had a tackle who was playing tight end moved to center in the middle of the game against a very intricate and excellently prepared defensive front. As much as Steelers fans would like to leap off the edge of the closest tall building just two steps after the offensive line does, they weren't going against Little Sisters of the Browns. Tennessee did an outstanding job all around.

Not to suggest they're the 1985 Chicago Bears, but that's a good defensive team and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see them do what they did Sunday to another team.

Moving forward, whether It's Kelvin Beachum at center, or Cody Wallace, that player will be prepared to come in and play center. He will be schooled up on the checks, adjustments and calls the position is required to make at the line of scrimmage.

If anything, the criticism should fall on right guard David DeCastro for destroying Maurkice Pouncey's knee. After all, Marcus Gilbert was savaged for getting knocked over into DeCastro last year. DeCastro did more damage in a method that was more preventable than Gilbert last season.

Beachum was in over his head, plain and simple.

Cincinnati, Pittsburgh's Week 2 opponent, could present an even more difficult challenge, but with a running back who isn't seeing his first action in three weeks (like Redman and for the most part, Stephens-Howling were) and a center who's had a week to prepare, the offensive line might have a chance.

Right? Maybe?

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