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Did Dan Moore’s rookie season show hope for the future at left tackle?

Dan Moore was the first rookie in over 60 years to start for the Steelers the majority of the season at left tackle.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for imnprovement along the offensive lne in 2022. After signing some free agents and retaining Chuks Okorafor, another player the Steelers will look to get better production this season is second-year player Dan Moore Jr. Struggling at times as a rookie, what does Moore have to build on from last season? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

For the second week in a row, there will not be a lot of statistics due to looking at a player on the offensive line. But to do my best, Dan Moore Junior started 16 of the Steelers 17 games in 2021. It was the first time the Steelers had a first-year player start the majority of games at left tackle since 1960. Additionally, despite missing one game due to injury, Dan Moore played 1,080 snaps during the regular season, only four snaps behind Trai Turner for the most on offense.

When it comes to penalties, Moore was only called for an infraction six times with five of those penalties being accepted.

Since all the measurable statistics have now been reported, it’s time to move on to the highly debatable grades of Pro Football Focus. For his rookie season, Dan Moore had a final grade of 57.5 which placed him 72nd out of 83 eligible tackles in the NFL currently on a roster. His overall pass blocking score was 59.5 with a 52.0 run blocking score.

One game which stood out as an outlier for Moore in 2021 was his low score of 28.7 in Week 8 against the Cleveland Browns. The reason Moore had such a low score was because PFF graded him at a 0.0 pass block grade for the game. While some unwisely tried to defend the score, it’s simply was utter laziness by PFF as this equates to nothing being a positive in pass blocking for the game. While PFF tries to argue that Dan Moore Jr. was not winning his matchup, he was going up against Myles Garrett, often one-on-one. In the game, Garrett had four combined tackles with two quarterback hits, one of which being a sack. Although the claim was Moore was constantly losing so bad he couldn’t have been any worse, he must have been playing against the worst defender in the NFL if it was as if he wasn’t even there and the defender only got one sack. It’s not that Moore had a great game by any means, but it was not as if his opponent dominated the game in the style of T.J. Watt.

With no other stats readily available, let’s take a look at the film, particularly that Week 8 matchup against Myles Garrett.

The Film Line:

I love looking at games where players were considered to be playing their worst, it’s easy to pick great plays from a player’s best games to make them look good, but when you see the good and bad in a game that was their worst, I think it paints a better, and more complete picture.

With that said, let’s take a look at Dan Moore Jr. and his matchup with Myles Garrett and the Browns in Week 8, not just Dan Moore’s worst game of the year according to PFF, but the worst pass blocking performance in PFF’s history of grades.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. is the lineman to the far right side of the screen.

Ouch. That’s a pretty bad loss right there. Myles Garrett starts heading up field and you can see Najee Harris waiting to help block Garrett up the arc. Instead, Garrett pivots, converts his quick first steps into power, and drives Moore Jr. into Ben Roethlisberger’s lap shedding the block and throwing the quarterback to the ground.

This is one of Garrett’s two quarterback hits on the game, but it shows the level of mismatch this game put Dan Moore Jr. in. But while this play was a clear and awful loss, not every play went this bad.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

Again Dan Moore Jr. ends up in the pocket right next to his quarterback, but this time Moore Jr. was able to use his length to keep Garrett from getting to Roethlisberger. Notice that, similar to the first clip, Moore Jr. is too high in his stance, his feet are slow, and mostly he just grabs onto Garrett and tries to bench press him away from the pocket. Compare Moore Jr.’s feet to any of the other lineman, all of them take faster and smaller steps, even if they don’t win their blocks.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

This is better, but still a clear loss. Moore Jr. is trying to stay lower, his initial steps are quicker, and while he gets driven back into his quarterback, Garrett can’t get hands on Roethlisberger, and it is another defender who ends up recording the sack. Not a win, or even remotely a good rep, but his man isn’t the one hitting the quarterback. And that finish is at least a bit of a positive.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

This is an impressive rep by Garrett. Moore Jr. gets a grip on Garrett and is able to initially anchor and absorb the initial hit, but Garrett drives him back anyway. You can see the impact in the timing of the play.

As Johnson is coming open in the middle, Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with Garrett’s rush and it is a few steps later when he’s able to get the throw off, although it is too late. This loss from Moore Jr. doesn’t show up on stat sheets as anything other than a pressure, but it wrecked this play, and the drive would end with a field goal.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

This is an embarrassing loss. Garrett rips right through Dan Moore Jr.’s block, barely slowing him down in his path to sacking Ben Roethlisberger.

There weren’t many better reps, mostly it was Garrett dominating and Dan Moore Jr. doing everything he could just to survive the onslaught. That said, I don’t know if I would go so far as to grade Moore Jr. at a zero. His three worst reps are shown here, most snaps were Moore Jr. getting driven back and just barely keeping Ben Roethlisberger from being hit.

Dan Moore Jr. was a rookie who got by in college on his length and strength. Myles Garrett was more than a match for Moore Jr.’s strength, and consistently exploited Moore Jr.’s flawed mechanics.

In run blocking he did a lot better.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

When Dan Moore Jr. had the opportunity to be aggressive and go meet Garrett, he was able to win the matchup, here driving him back a bit and holding just enough to keep Garrett away from Najee Harris.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

On this play Moore Jr.’s target is the outside linebacker, and all he has to do is slow him enough to let Kalen Ballage get outside and stay in front of the unblocked edge, Myles Garrett. The linebacker is too quick for him and Harris is forced to slow down and he’s tackled by Myles Garrett.

Dan Moore Jr. has plenty of strength, but as in pass blocking, he will lose in run blocking when his feet are what is important.

Steelers @ Browns

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the lineman to the far left side of the screen.

Myles Garrett is out for this play, so this task is an easier one. Dan Moore Jr. dominates his block, clearing a lane for Najee Harris to run through for 8 yards. Also standing out here is the job Kendrick Green does reaching the defensive tackle and slowing him down enough to preserve Harris’s run lane.

The Point:

It is important to remember that new offensive line coach Pat Meyer has a more flexible approach to pass blocking, and teaches his lineman to step out aggressively like they are run blocking in certain pass blocking scenarios. That should be a big boost to Dan Moore Jr., trading a serious weakness in his pass blocking footwork for some of his greatest strengths, his reach and punch power.

While it is clear that Dan Moore Jr. was overmatched by Myles Garrett in Week 8, even in this awful game you can see some hope in his ability to stay on the block and his fight to keep his quarterback from being hit. You can also see why the Steelers would invest in a line coach that will embrace Moore Jr.’s strengths and lessen the impact of his weaknesses.

If Dan Moore Jr. can improve his fundamentals, he has the size, strength, and disposition to be a really good tackle. 2022 will be a key year for him.