5 best Pittsburgh Steelers players through the first quarter of 2021 season
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a big disappointment through the first four weeks of 2021, but these five players have stood above the rest.
I realize there’s no longer a true ‘quarter mark’ of the season now that the NFL has adopted a new 17-game schedule, but I figured it would be better to get these rankings out now than being precise and waiting until after the first quarter of the fifth game of the year.
Through their first four contests, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been utterly disappointing, and it starts with the dismal play on the offensive side of the ball. Father time has caught up to Ben Roethlisberger faster than most would have predicted, and the young offensive line has been in shambles so far. Defensively, we’ve seen better days, but injuries have held this unit back from reaching its full potential.
Regardless of the embarrassing 1-3 record so far, Pittsburgh has some notable players who deserve some credit for their performances so far this year. For these rankings, I considered factors such as production, efficiency, player grades, and of course, film reviews. Here are my top five Steelers through the first four weeks of the season:
5. Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth
I contemplated going with a different rookie for my number five spot. First-round running back, Najee Harris, has done just about all the Steelers could ask him to do, considering the circumstances. The offensive line play has been poor to begin the season, but Harris still has a handful of botched blocking assignments and missed running lanes.
Pat Freiermuth has been utilized far less than Harris on offense so far, but the results have been excellent when he’s on the field. In addition to helping spring open some decent holes as a run blocker and churning out a very good pass-block grade, Freiermuth has been remarkable as a receiver in limited action.
According to Pro Football Reference, Freiermuth has caught 9 of 11 targets thrown his direction for 93 yards and a touchdown (8.5 yards per target). Ben Roethlisberger has by far his best passer rating (132.2) when throwing to the big tight end this year. Pat needs to be given a bigger market share in the passing game moving forward.