Four months after going on Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin podcast and saying that the offense didn’t have hot routes last year, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth now claims that the offense did in fact have hot routes. Appearing on Cam Heyward’s Not Just Football podcast on Friday night, Freiermuth said he misspoke on Roethlisberger’s podcast.
“What I meant to say was we have hot routes in our offense, the differences in our hot routes is what made it different this year. Ben had his hot routes that he had for 18 years and Kenny just got in so he was getting used to our offense’s hot routes. It was the differences of the hot routes; we have them in,” Freiermuth said via the NFL on ESPN YouTube channel.
For reference, this was his quote in January during a live Roethlisberger podcast:
“I tell Kenny this all the time. It’s so different because we didn’t have hots. With you, how many times did we have a concept and you looked at [WR Diontae Johnson] and give a signal and it’d be a 12-yard completion. We didn’t have that this year.”
I mean, it sure makes a lot more sense if the Steelers’ offense had hot routes. Not having hot routes would make Matt Canada’s offense the most rudimentary, basic form of what an offense is. Alex Kozora did a good job breaking down instances of when hot routes worked with Roethlisberger and times last year under Pickett when they probably should’ve been used, if they in fact were in the offense.
It would also make sense if the team had hots but in a much more limited fashion than under Roethlisberger. Obviously, Pickett wasn’t going to have the same freedom as a rookie as Roethlisberger did in 2021, but hot routes are still a reasonable expectation in an offense. If that was the case, Freiermuth misspeaking and not explaining it fully makes more sense.
The team was reportedly not happy with him saying the Steelers didn’t have hot routes, so him walking back his original comments could be an attempt to save face for the coaching staff if, in fact, they really didn’t have hot routes. Or maybe Freiermuth really did not explain it fully. I guess we’ll never know.
Whether the team did or did not have hot routes in 2022 doesn’t really matter at this point. It’s not as if having them would’ve made them a Super Bowl contender. Would it have improved the offense? Sure. It also would’ve been a benefit for Pickett.
And if the Steelers had them in a limited capacity, that makes a lot of sense too, and there’s a chance that they expand Pickett’s freedom when it comes to using hot routes as he develops. But it’s definitely interesting, four months later, Freiermuth felt the need to walk back his comments.