Though coming off of a very promising rookie season, the Pittsburgh Steelers knew going into the 2022 season that there was still plenty of room for growth from second-year tight end Pat Freiermuth. He got his sophomore season off to a good start on Sunday with five catches for 75 yards, including some explosive plays, one of which was off of a designed gadget play.
He’s got the attention of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, the Steelers’ next opponent, who talked about the young tight end during his media availability session as the two teams prepare to face off at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday.
“Good player. Athletic kid. Big target. Catches the ball well. Competitive blocker,” the future Hall of Fame head coach said in a machine gun approach to evaluation. “He’s got good size, can cover some people on the end of the line of scrimmage. He’s done a good job for them”.
Freiermuth views himself as a complete tight end, even if Zach Gentry has developed into the Steelers’ primary blocking tight end. One of his stated goals this offseason was to improve his in-line blocking, which is, perhaps, still a work in progress. But he has already made strides in his other primary goal, which is being able to work down the field more and create after the catch.
“Had a couple of big plays last week. So he’s part of their good skill package”, Belichick said. “Good skill group. He’s one of them. They definitely see some plays that are kind of, his kind of plays. Where he’s kind of the only receiver or by far the primary receiver. He’s come through for them, so I’m sure they’ll continue to give him those opportunities”.
He saw 10 targets in the opener, second on the team only to Diontae Johnson, who received 12 targets out of Mitch Trubisky’s 38 pass attempts. Those two combined for more than half of the team’s targets, and I think we can realistically anticipate that that will be a theme this year.
Though he didn’t start last season, Trubisky’s record as a starter with the Chicago Bears indicated a proclivity for relying upon the tight end position in the passing game, and his first start with the Steelers certainly offered no contradicting evidence.