With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, we are finally beginning to piece together some concrete data to attempt to draw conclusions about the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they will be during the 2022 season.
With new quarterbacks, new coaches in new roles, even a new stadium name, there is plenty of change, creating an environment of even less predictability. That includes the new general manager, which could potentially introduce new variables we will have to learn to adjust to over the years when making our own projections of what decisions the team will make.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: James Daniels’ play is a major concern right now as an indication of the future.
Explanation: The Steelers signed former second-round lineman James Daniels to a three-year, $26.5 million contract to take over the right guard position, believing that he is an up-and-coming young talent. His struggles have been noted throughout training camp, however, and his play during the preseason has left much to be desired.
Of course this is a major concern. James Daniels was supposed to be the plug-and-play guy, the guy we weren’t supposed to have to worry about, the guy who was going to make others around him better. The other linemen we even talking about the leadership he was displaying despite being a newcomer in the group.
But right now, he’s not even looking like a starter-quality offensive lineman. He has been a liability, even managing to draw a penalty in just 44 snaps of preseason action. His work in pass protection, which has been the bulk of it, has to give you pause, even if he isn’t giving up all kinds of pressures. He’s losing his matchups.
And here’s the real concern: there’s nobody else to start.
It’s not unusual for players who have changed teams to go through a transitional period, particularly when they have to learn not just a new offense but a new technical vocabulary and philosophy, which is what he’s going through with Pat Meyer as his new offensive line coach.
Just because he has had his struggles now doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to clean things up as we move along. We have, or should have, been operating under the understanding all along that this offensive line as a group is going to take a bit of time to come together. We don’t need to hit the panic button just because some preseason snaps, with little or no game prep, didn’t look so great. We can sell this for now. Get back to me a month into the regular season.