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Film Room: Pat Freiermuth Poised For Second Year Leap

The Pittsburgh Steelers passing offense came alive in the first half of their preseason finale against the Detroit Lions as QB Mitch Trubisky went 15/19 (79%) for 160 yards and a TD before the intermission. Several of the pass catchers made big plays down the field as well as in the short and intermediate areas, showcasing a more balanced passing attack than what we have become accustomed to seeing the last couple of years with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. Diontae Johnson and George Pickens both made clutch grabs along the sideline for over 20 yards, resulting in chunk plays for the offense.

The Film

TE Pat Freiermuth had arguably his best showing of the preseason against Detroit as well, leading the team with 45 yards receiving while catching three of his for targets before being rested in the second half. There has been much speculation that the second year TE out of Penn State could be ready to make a leap this season after a promising rookie campaign, and if his performance is any indicator, his chances of accomplishing just that appear strong.

To start things out on the afternoon in the pass catching department, Freiermuth catches a simple comeback route over the middle of the field from Trubisky after aligning in-line on the LOS. Still, you see Freiermuth’s strong hands and ability to make contested catches on display here as the defender is draped all over the TE’s back as the ball arrives, but Freiermuth is still able to corral the ball and make the catch while fighting for additional yardage.

 

Still, there was one pass on the afternoon that Freiermuth would like to have back going through the tape. Here we see a similar pass concept where Freiermuth spots up in the middle of the field in front of #34 Alex Anzalone. However, he doesn’t immediately roll out the right on the whip route as Trubisky throws the pass his direction. This leave Freiermuth outstretching his arms to try and make the diving catch with Anzalone nearly tipping the pass. Freiermuth gets his hands on the ball, but can’t reel it in. Should he be more immediate with his release on this play, there’s a better chance the pass could have been complete.

 

However, Freiermuth makes up for the missed opportunity with two key catches during the two-minute offense to close out the half. Early at the start of the drive, Trubisky checks down short to #88 Pat Freiermuth in the flat on the right side of the field, hitting the TE as he looks to turn up field. Freiermuth catches the pass but is unable to shake the tackle attempt before the defense rallies, finishing with an eight-yard gain.

 

Johnson and Pickens made some great catches down the field earlier in the contest, Freiermuth added his name to the list of explosive plays down the field via an impressive 32-yard completion down the seam, mimicking the play he made a week earlier against the Jaguars. Trubisky takes the snap with Freiermuth running from the slot down the middle of the field and fires the ball to Freiermuth’s outside shoulder as he shows great body control to make the catch in-stride as he gets wrapped up by two Lions defenders and brought down inside the Detroit ten.

 

Here is the aerial view of the play to Freiermuth, showcasing Trubisky’s awareness to put the ball away from LB #55 Derrick Barnes in coverage to the place where only Freiermuth has a chance to make the catch. We also see Freiermuth’s concentration and adjustment on the football in the air to reel in the explosive play in the middle of the field to put Pittsburgh in range for an end zone strike

 

While Freiermuth shined as a pass catcher in the first half against Detroit, he also showcased improvement as a blocker in the running game. Here we see Freiermuth get out in front on a jet sweep to Gunner Olszewski, locating the outside corner #1 Jeff Okudah as he gets his hands inside the defender’s chest and runs his feet on contact, taking Okudah out of the play as Olszewski takes the carry into the red zone.

 

Here’s another example of Freiermuth getting it done as a blocker on the run to the left of your screen, pulling from left to right as he locates the nearest ugly at the second level and proceeds to run him clear to the sideline, keeping his man from getting a hand on RB Jaylen Warren.

 

Conclusion

Overall, it was another strong showing for Freiermuth who make some big plays in the previous game against the Jacksonville Jaguars as well. The hamstring injury that hampered him early on in training camp appears to be well behind him as he continues to be a security blanket over the middle of the field in the passing game while also seeing more utilization down the field, hauling in seam balls down the middle of the field in back-to-back performances. It was Freiermuth’s goal to improve his aver yards per reception this year, and while he can still use some work at creating after the catch, you must be encouraged by the plays he is making to stretch defenses vertically thus far.

There are a lot of pass catchers at Pittsburgh’s disposal heading into the 2022 season, but Freiermuth has shown a rapport with both Trubisky and Kenny Pickett who are the current favorites to see time as Pittsburgh’s starting QB. This only bodes well for Freiermuth as he looks to improve on the 497 yards and seven TD he posted as a rookie, making more of an impact in his second season in the league. Combine that with steady improvements as a run blocker, and Freiermuth could be setting himself up for a notable Year Two leap.

What are your thoughts on Pat Freiermuth’s performance against the Detroit Lions? Do you think that he has shown notable improvement from his rookie season thus far in preseason play? What are your expectations for the second year TE in 2022? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!

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