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Did Dan Moore Jr. show improvement in his matchups against the Browns?

After facing Miles Garret in the middle of the 2021 NFL season, how did he fare in their second meeting in January?

NFL: OCT 31 Steelers at Browns Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for improvement along the offensive line in 2022. After looking at Dan Moore Jr. last week, particularly his first matchup with Miles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns, now it’s time to look at their second go-round from Week 17. 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 yet another week, the statistics will be hard to come be as is typical with an offensive lineman. But since we are comparing one game to another, looking at the statistics of Myles Garrett in these two games could be quite telling.

The first time Dan Moore Jr. squared off against Myles Garrett in Week 8, Garrett had four combined tackles, two of which were for loss, and two quarterback hits, one of which was a sack, on 55 snaps. When the two players faced off again in Week 17, Myles Garrett only had one combined tackle and two quarterback hits with no sacks in 65 snaps.

As outlined in the last article, Dan Moore Jr. saw his lowest score of the season according to Pro Football Focus in Week 8 at 28.7 overall. Moore’s individual scores from the first matchup was a 0.0 pass blocking grade and 56.5 run blocking score. In Week 17, Moore had an improved grade of 45.7 overall, but was still his second lowest of the season. More obviously had an improved pass blocking grade of 44.3, but he saw a decreased run blocking score of 48.3. It should also be noted that in neither game saw Moore called for a penalty. Additionally, keep in mind that Dan Moore Junior suffered an ankle injury early in the game which he still played through but cost him the Steelers Week 18 matchup in Baltimore. To also be fair, Myles Garret was limited in practice in the week heading up to the second matchup with a groin injury, but did not have an official injury status going into the game.

Now seeing how the numbers played out, what will really be intriguing is to see if there was added improvement when it comes to film.

The Film Line:

Week 17 was an incredibly meaningful game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger had acknowledged that he was going to be done at the end of the 2022 season, and week 17 was going to be his final home game, a game against the Cleveland Browns whom he had terrorized his entire career. It was also a chance for the Steelers to sweep the Browns who had beaten them in the playoffs in 2021.

I tend to avoid drawing too many conclusions from games like that, but the game is also the rematch of Dan Moore Jr. and Myles Garrett, a matchup that led PFF to give Dan Moore Jr. a 0 pass blocking grade in week 8. So let’s look and see how he did in week 17.

Steelers vs. Browns, 1st quarter, 3:38

Dan Moore Jr. is the left tackle, just inside Pat Freiermuth to the top of the screen.

The story of the Week 17 win over the Browns was the run game, and specifically running inside. As you can see here, the Steelers frequently left a tight end to deal with Myles Garrett, allowing Dan Moore Jr. to get to the second level to take out linebackers. If it weren’t for a nice run blitz from the right side, this play picks up the first down and likely more.

Steelers vs. Browns, 4th quarter, 11:30

Dan Moore Jr. is the left tackle, bottom of the screen.

By the end of the game, they were confident enough to run right by Myles Garrett multiple times, this time to convert on third down in a one-score game. A stop here keeps the Steelers out of field goal range, but following this conversion the Steelers would extend their lead to 9 points.

Look at Dan Moore Jr.’s feet, he steps out to meet Garrett, and doesn’t get pushed back at all. A nice, clean run lane for Najee Harris will always lead to good things for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dan Moore Jr. was better in the run game than he was in Week 8, but that wasn’t the problem in Week 8 at all. So how did Dan Moore Jr. do against Myles Garrett in pass protection?

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 13:10

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the left tackle, to the bottom of the screen.

If you compare this rep to the ones in our previous vertex focusing on Week 8, you can see the footwork improvement that shows up here. The steps are quicker and shorter, and Garrett doesn’t have the same opportunity to attack Moore Jr. that he did in Week 8. You can also see the help coming from guard John Leglue. The Steelers seemed more concerned about this matchup from the beginning of the game.

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 8:21

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the left tackle, to the bottom of the screen.

Again you can see the help coming from John Leglue, but frankly, Dan Moore Jr. rarely needed help with Garrett in this game. Garrett gets a good start on this rep, but Dan Moore Jr. does a great job of using his length and strength to push Garrett out wider, making his path to the quarterback longer. He then re-acquires contact to drive him deeper as well, and Ben Roethlisberger remains upright.

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 5:35

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the left tackle, to the bottom of the screen.

I love this play. Dan Moore Jr. is able to keep contact with Garrett, and keeps pushing him wider, then deeper, and then past Roethlisberger. He doesn’t pull Garrett, he pushes him, keeping away any holding call, and it buys time and space for his quarterback to find a receiver for a Steelers first down.

Garrett did get two hits on Ben Roethlisberger though, so we better check that out.

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 0:17

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the left tackle, to the bottom of the screen.

Myles Garrett shows off his power here, driving this arc with strength more than speed or bend, he just can’t bully Dan Moore Jr. without the glaring flaws in Moore Jr.’s technique that we saw in Week 8. But congratulations to Garrett, his right hand did hit Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder, and that’s a QB hit.

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 7:03

Dan Moore Jr. (#65) is the left tackle, to the bottom of the screen.

With Moore Jr. ready for his speed rush and controlling his rush through the arc, Myles Garrett unleashes his spin move to try and get pressure. Although it isn’t great footwork, Dan Moore Jr. meets him and gives him a nice hug. It was probably frustrating losing to a guy that PFF gave a 0.0 pass blocking grade to in Week 8, and it’s nice to see Dan Moore Jr. offering some emotional support.

The Point:

Dan Moore Jr. still has room to grow and needs to realize that growth. It is also worth noting that Myles Garrett was on the injury report each day prior to this matchup, so he may not have been playing at the same level as he was in week 8. But no matter how good Garrett was playing, the improvement in Dan Moore Jr.’s footwork is easy to see.

That much growth in 9 weeks is impressive and should give Steeler fans hope and a little excitement for what Dan Moore Jr.’s future could be. But in the same way we didn’t want to put too much into his struggles in Week 8, try not to put too much into his successes in Week 17 either. It’s awesome to see the arrow pointed up on a player that could be a key fixture on this roster for years to come, but he still has a long ways to go. Having a really good game against one of the best defenders in the NFL and a highly paid division rival is a fantastic way to advance on that journey.