The crown jewel of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ unprecedented activity in free agency, high expectations were placed on new right guard James Daniels ahead of the 2022 season.
After four seasons in Chicago playing all over the interior of the offensive line, Daniels landed in Pittsburgh on a three-year deal with the belief and expectation that he’d settle in at right guard and solidify a rebuilt Steelers offensive line under first-year offensive line coach Pat Meyer.
In his first preseason action though Saturday at Acrisure Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks, the Daniels era in Pittsburgh got off to a bit of a rough start. Though the Steelers ran the ball well in the 32-25 win, Daniels and the rest of the starting offensive line allowed a bit too much pressure on quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
In fact, Daniels earned an alarmingly-low 13.2 overall grade in pass protection from Pro Football Focus. It wasn’t pretty at all from Daniels in the pass blocking department, though some of the issues Saturday night against the Seahawks could be chalked up to some communication issues.
However, Daniels was pretty blunt in his assessment of his play to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac Monday, stating that he was sloppy at times, and needs to clean things up overall.
“We need to keep the quarterbacks cleaner,” Daniels said to Dulac, according to original reporting from the Post-Gazette. “I can only speak for myself, but I was kind of sloppy at times. When I get sloppy at times, I think I got Mitch hit a couple times. I have to focus on not being sloppy.”
It was certainly a sloppy night from Daniels, who really struggled in protection. According to PFF, Daniels allowed two pressures and one quarterback hit in 10 pass block snaps played. He had some decent reps in pass protection, but others were losses that occurred rather quickly and allowed Trubisky to get hit, which was a major problem not only for Daniels, but for the offense overall.
Good news is it’s still early and the offensive line is working on ironing out some kinks playing together. Saturday’s performance wasn’t settling by any means, but it’s important to not overreact one way or another right now. He’s consistently been a sound offensive lineman overall throughout his career, and should bounce back overall, simply by cleaning up some sloppiness, as he says.