The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Is Dan Moore Jr. the long-term answer at left tackle?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are full of questions this year. One of the most underrated ones comes at left tackle in sophomore Dan Moore Jr. Thrown into the fire as a rookie last year, Moore opened the year as the starter after Zach Banner suffered a setback in his rehab, shifting Chukwuma Okorafor to left tackle and inserting Moore into the starting five. He predictably took his rookie lumps but improved as the season went on. In total, he allowed 7.5 sacks, an average of one every 93.6 snaps. Just one of those came over his final six starts, a tangible sign of improvement. His run blocking also improved and it’s an underrated aspect of his game. Moore is smart, a hard worker, and carries himself well.
All that said, can he reach the level of long-term starter? With just one year under his belt offering mixed results, it’s hard to say. He’s not Rashawn Slater, he’s not someone you can watch for a couple games and know he’s the guy. But he’s not in over his head either and has the tools, traits, and work ethic to consistently improve. Whether he takes a step or leap in 2022 will determine his long-term outlook.
Moore’s biggest room for improvement comes with his power and functional strength. Getting stronger to stall out bull rushes will be key and were a problem for him last season. In Pat Meyer’s aggressive pass set system, Moore will be asked to jump set defensive ends, not to give ground, and chase down widely aligned pass rushers. “Bring the fight to them” is Meyer’s mantra and while strength alone won’t get the job done, it’s important.
If this upcoming season shows more uneven play, Pittsburgh would be wise to look for a left tackle of the future especially if the James Daniels and Mason Cole signings help plug other holes in the leaky boat that’s been this offensive line. But if Moore has a strong season, he’ll earn the right to continue starting with the hope of him becoming an above-average tackle, something better than Kelvin Beachum, something maybe not quite as good as Marvel Smith.
For now, all of that is speculation. Moore’s future rests in the his hands. After 2022 wraps up, there will be a much clearer conversation as to what caliber of player he is – an average one versus a good one.