The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, nearing the end of the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.
There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the year. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.
Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.
There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: How did tight end Pat Freiermuth end up with zero targets in Sunday’s game?
Ordinarily, I don’t pose questions for the purpose of answering them. Rather I do so to open it up for discussion in our community. Really, I try to ask questions that don’t actually have answers. This one, though, has a partial answer, at least.
Tight end Pat Freiermuth suffered a foot injury in the game against the Baltimore Ravens last week. It affected his entire week of practice, though not his availability for the game. And he did play a lot. But his playing time skewed heavily toward run downs on a day the Steelers ran the ball as much as they ever had under head coach Mike Tomlin.
But he still played on passing downs, and we have him charted for running 17 routes. That’s not a lot, but you might think he would end up being targeted at least once in all of that. After all, Zach Gentry, Myles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski, Steven Sims, and Jaylen Warren all got targeted.
I don’t think they went into the game with a ‘don’t throw it to Pat’ plan. It just happened to work out that way, for whatever reason. His foot injury was a factor in that of course, and perhaps it affected his routes and limited the frequency with which he actually got open.
I wouldn’t guess it has anything to do with who was at quarterback. Mitch Trubisky targeted him 10 times in the opener and seven times a week after that. He got six targets in last week’s game, which Trubisky played the vast majority of.
For the record, I don’t think there’s anything worth reading into this. I think it’s just one of those statistical oddities that will happen from time to time. An injured tight end playing in a run-heavy game plan might not see a target for a game. Worth noting, but then you move on. It was the first time in his career he didn’t catch a pass in a game.