As we’ll do every week to get you ready for the upcoming game, our X-Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. Here’s our X-Factor for tomorrow’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
X-FACTOR: OT DAN MOORE JR.
It feels like every week, our X-Factor has something to do with the trenches. One side or the other, offense and defense. Tiresome as it is, we’ll keep that theme going this week with Moore Jr. If it wasn’t for Kendrick Green’s even greater struggles, we’d focus more on Moore. Don’t let Rashawn Slater fool you, being a rookie left tackle isn’t easy so Moore (and Green) should be graded on something of a curve in at least our personal evaluation.
Moore has been highly inconsistent. If you have to give him a grade overall, it’d probably look like a C-, with his run blocking being a couple rungs better than his pass protection.
He’ll have a tough matchup Sunday afternoon facing OLB Harold Landry. Landry can and probably will play both sides but much like Myles Garrett and Joey Bosa, teams have been keeping top pass rushers to Moore’s side as opposed to having them go against a more veteran and better pass protector in Chukwuma Okorafor.
Landry leads the team with 11 sacks this season. But he isn’t a pure pass rusher. He has a load of tackles and run stops, even if that’s partially him playing the run on his way to the quarterback. He’s quick, athletic, and improved by leaps and bounds, able to stay healthy after medical concerns coming out of Boston College. Landry isn’t especially powerful, one of Moore’s weaknesses, but it’ll still be a difficult matchup. On the season, Moore leads the team with a whopping seven sacks allowed. Left tackles give up more than centers so context is important to note but seven sacks already and a guy on track to allow roughly ten this season is not good.
Pittsburgh can’t win without playing well in the trenches. That’s been true in essentially all their losses this season except maybe the Buffalo Bills game, where Buffalo refused to run the ball and Pittsburgh squeaked out a victory with special teams plays and a great Diontae Johnson touchdown.
Moore playing well alone isn’t enough to secure victory. But Ben Roethlisberger has had a target on his back all season, like the kid in junior high with the “kick me” sign. It’s a minor miracle he’s standing right now. If Pittsburgh wants any chance of getting him and this team to the finish line, they must protect better.
That doesn’t end with Moore. But this week, it starts with him.