The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns in the regular season finale on Sunday, winning by a final score of 28-14. It was an ugly game for all intends and purposes as the passing game for either team struggled to get anything going along with the referees getting involved due to several penalties enforced on both sidelines. Still, Pittsburgh managed to find a way to victory as they have throughout the second half of the season, extending HC Mike Tomlin’s non-losing season streak another year, but failing to make it into the postseason.
LT Dan Moore Jr. has faced much scrutiny dating back to last season when he was thrust into the starting lineup, starting 16 games while experiencing the growing pains you would expect from a rookie fourth-round draft pick protecting Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside. Pittsburgh opted to not address OT in the draft this past offseason, giving Moore the nod at the LT spot for another season. He started 17 games in 2022, playing 1,160 offensive snaps while getting penalized ten times and allowing seven sacks according to Pro Football Focus. He appeared to be on a similar trajectory to last season at the beginning of 2022, struggling mightily in pass protection while having inconsistency on a down-to-down basis frustrating Steelers Nation.
However, as the entire offensive line appeared to find their groove in the second half of the year, so did Moore who managed to string together several admirable performances down the stretch. Against the Browns, we saw Moore still struggle with the same issues we have noted about his game since getting drafted out of Texas A&M in 2021, but he managed to hold his own more and lose fewer reps overall in pass protection as well as a run blocker. He held his own for a majority of the contest against #95 Myles Garrett who has given him fits in the previous three meetings, keeping the All-Pro edge rusher from completely wreaking the game by playing with better patience as a pass protector.
There were moments where Garrett got the better of Moore in pass protection, the main instance being this sack by Garrett where Garrett gives a hard jab step inside, causing Moore to stall for a split second as Garrett gets to his outside shoulder and proceeds to dip and rip through Moore’s grasp as his feet stall at the top of Garrett’s rush. Garrett flattens around the corner and drags down Kenny Pickett from behind for the sack.
Moore has had issues synching up his hands and feet in pass protection throughout his NFL career. However, Garrett has gotten the better on most LTs this season and throughout his NFL career as this move combination by Garrett would be difficult for Moore to defend against. However, there were several other instances where Garrett beat Moore, but couldn’t finish at the QB. Take, for example, this rep where Garrett whips Moore with an inside spin move, dropping his head and whiffing on his punch. Thankfully, LG Kevin Dotson is there to slow down Garrett’s rush giving Moore time to recover and sandwich Garrett to neutralize him.
Another issue that Dan Moore Jr. regularly deals with is a lack of anchor in pass protection. He is too easily pushed off his spot by power, getting walked back into the lap of the QB. That is exactly what happens on this rep where Garrett uses a bull rush to push Moore right into Pickett’s face, but Pickett releases the pass to George Pickens down the sideline who makes a terrific back-shoulder catch.
While a decent athlete, Dan Moore Jr. tends to have a problem getting on blocks out in space and finishing blocks without falling off. There were multiple instances throughout Sunday’s contest of Moore being in position to latch on and run off a defender, but he either misses the block entirely or quickly falls off. We see the latter here as Moore gets a good initial punch on #42 Tony Fields II but fails to sustain the block as he lets up, allowing Fields to get off the block attempt and get in on the tackle attempt on Najee Harris.
Still, there were moments when Dan Moore Jr. executed adequately both as a run blocker and pass protector against the Browns. On this rep, watch Moore successfully down block Garrett away from the play, clearing him out as Harris makes a man miss and picks up six yards on the first down carry.
While it may not have always looked perfect, Moore did manage to keep Myles Garrett from affecting the game for most of the contest. On this TD pass to George Pickens, we see Moore run Garrett around the arc of the pocket, allowing Pickett to quickly take a step forward and drive the ball to a wide-open Pickens for the score.
When Cleveland decided to run more twists and stunts upfront, Moore displayed a better awareness at adjusting and picking up these blitz packages compared to earlier in the season or back in 2021. Watch this play where Moore passes off Garrett to Kevin Dotson as Garrett crashes inside while picking up #69 Chase Winovich who loops around to the edge, keeping him from getting to Pickett who throws a deep pass down the sideline to Diontae Johnson with the pass falling just in front of his intended target.
Overall, Dan Moore had a decent performance against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. He didn’t look like a Pro Bowler out there with Garrett getting the better of him on a few occasions, but also wasn’t awful as he managed to keep one of the league’s best pass rushers at bay for most of this game. Moore’s continued issues regarding his lack of anchor, inconsistent punch, and lack of finish in the running game can be frustrating, but he has shown improved consistency and a higher floor both as a pass protector and run blocker in the last several games of the year compared to the beginning of 2022 and all of 2021.
Many fans will want to see Pittsburgh upgrade at the LT spot over Dan Moore Jr. this offseason but given the young tackle’s maturation over the course of his first two seasons, it’s very plausible that Pittsburgh could decide to run it back yet again with Moore at the blindside in 2023 expecting him to take another step forward. That will likely never mean Moore becoming a top-ten LT in the NFL, but Pittsburgh hasn’t prioritized the OT position in the past compared to the interior where fellow OL Kevin Dotson has had his fair share of inconsistencies and is a pending free agent after the 2023 season.
Therefore, while Moore still has a lot to improve on, he has gradually made himself a serviceable starting offensive tackle in the NFL. Given Pittsburgh’s other needs on the roster and how they allowed RT Chukwuma Okorafor to grow over time, we very well may see the team follow the same process with Moore in 2023.
What are your thoughts on Dan Moore Jr.’s performance against the Browns? Do you think that he was serviceable as a starting LT? Do you want to see Pittsburgh upgrade over him this offseason, or do you think that he can be the guy? Do you think Pittsburgh will stick with him as the starter in 2023? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and thanks again for reading!