Not only is Ryan Switzer happy to be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he also made it pretty clear that he’s seemingly equally happy to not be where he could have been. The Oakland Raiders acquired him early this offseason in exchange for Jihad Ward (whom the Dallas Cowboys subsequently released), but then the Raiders flipped him to Pittsburgh after it looked as though he would not make the roster.
As new-old Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden continues to scream into the void that everybody wants to play for him as he repeatedly loses in ugly performances in his first season back on the sidelines, Switzer is thankful that the Steelers called and plucked him up from the dung heap, where he has been able to carve out a role for himself.
After playing very sparsely in Dallas during his rookie season last year, Switzer instantly carved out a niche role for himself in the Steelers’ offense in spite of the fact that he had an absolute minimum of time to learn the offense, having been traded for so close to the start of the regular season.
In a role that has varied depending on the game circumstances and the plan going in, the second-year wide receiver has averaged roughly 10 snaps per game and over two touches per game between receptions and carries, in addition to his duties as a dual-purpose return man.
That is far more than he saw in Dallas, and more than he would have seen with the Raiders either, if he were to even make the team. Which is why he responded to a Twitter user who said that the Steelers were lucky for trading for him, “how lucky was I that they came & got me from where I was”.
It’s not difficult to read between those lines. In fact, you can just read the lines and get his meaning. He wasn’t happy with how either the Cowboys or the Raiders were looking to use him, if at all. The Steelers, instead, saw a player that they could use and made the move to pick him up.
That’s not to say that he has been a game-breaker for their offense, but he has been mostly very effective in the niche duties that they have asked him to carry out, the only blemish that he can be really faulted for being having a couple of drops, one of which was his first target on his new team working with a new quarterback, which could be excusable.
Switzer isn’t the only one who has expressed relief to be out of the ‘black hole’, however, as the article linked to above indicates, with Bruce Irvin reportedly shouting out his freedom in the Atlanta Falcons locker room after he was traded.
Gruden’s first season back among the coaching ranks has been about as close to being a disaster as possible without actually being a disaster, and that is only assuming one is reluctant to call it a bona fide disaster. Perhaps no exile, however, has been happier about his exit than has Switzer.