Steelers must hand the ball over to TE Pat Freiermuth

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The 2021 Steelers draft class leaves an impact on this team more than I have ever seen before in their first season. The group play important snaps and are among the best playmakers on the Steelers roster. Najee Harris will be the group’s crown jewel for the foreseeable future, but second-round pick Pat Freiermuth is carving out a role in that system and becoming a leading player. In the first six games of his NFL career, Freiermuth was targeted 20 times and caught 18 (one of those targets was completely unattainable). Put simply, the guy catches everything in his own way and he usually pushes defenders onto the pitch when he does.

The Steelers had a history under Ben Roethlisberger for seriously underestimating tight ends. Even Heath Miller, in his heyday, was rarely the focal point of the offense when he could have been one of the best statistical tight ends of his time. The Steelers can no longer abuse a talented winger like this. While Miller was just as good if not better than a blocker, Freiermuth’s skills allow him to be better in the passing game, in the mold of the modern tight end being basically a really big receiver. On several occasions this season, Roethlisberger has completely ignored Freiermuth despite his grand opening. With Freiermuth’s incredible hands, the Steelers can’t afford to overlook him when he’s running alone or on a big gap.

The point is, Pat Freiermuth is one of the most athletically gifted tight ends Ben Roethlisberger has ever thrown. His skills aren’t something he’s used to targeting, but Roethlisberger needs to start looking in the direction of the 88s. Using him as a true tight end also means some safeties will have to play further off the line, or a linebacker might have to move for better leverage in the man’s cover, which in turn opens up running avenues for Najee Harris. The Steelers’ two super rookies can feed off each other here, if the Steelers just decide to use Freiermuth more.

The seven targets Freiermuth received against the Seahawks is a perfect example of how the Steelers should use it. However, they need to sprinkle more main roads where he’s first read and have him run more looks, posts and corners where he can really slash a defense the same way Travis Kelce and Darren Waller do at the opposition. Using Freiermuth plus opens up a world of possibilities for the offense and something that I think they wholeheartedly need to do more often.

But what do you think? Should the Steelers get Pat Freiermuth more involved in the offense? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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