Pat Freiermuth had the most productive season by a Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie tight end. Ever. But like any rookie, there’s room to grow. And Freiermuth already knows how he wants to improve heading into 2022, his sophomore season.
He spoke with reporters yesterday to discuss his 2022 goals.
“Obviously I think that I need to improve in my in-line blocking,” he told reporters via the team’s YouTube channel Tuesday. “I think I’m a pretty good blocker out in space and stuff. I just need to continue to be able to have the coaches have trust in me and have confidence in me to be able to move d-ends in the run game and be that point of attack blocker.”
In-line blocking is often the largest hurdle rookie tight ends have to overcome. Freiermuth was more advanced than most thanks to his work there at Penn State and even in high school. But taking on a NFL player is a whole different level and Freiermuth, at best, was average, and arguably below. That lack of in-line blocking made him, and to an extent the Steelers’ run scheme, predictable.
“When I go on the field and stuff like that, it’s not kind of, ‘he’s gonna go run a route or he is gonna come back and split flow or he is gonna block in space.’ They don’t really know what I’m doing when I’m out there.”
Freiermuth was often aligned as a “Y-Off” player this season when part of the core of the formation, which often meant for him pulling across the formation on a split zone block, as he referred to with his “split flow” comment. It likely became a pretty obvious tell for opposing defenses, something we’re going to try and study this offseason. Having him be strong at the point of attack will make him more of an in-line blocker and give him – and the offense – more versatility.
Freiermuth said there’s other parts of his game to work on, too.
“Obviously just getting better at my routes. You can always work at that level. And run after [the catch]. Coach Tomlin’s always talking about that. So just get more comfortable with that.”
Like any rookie, there’s room for growth and improvement. But Freiermuth established himself as the no-brainer #1 tight end this season and will hold that same role in 2022. That’s about as strong of a start as anyone could’ve hoped for when Pittsburgh took him 55th overall.