1. Pat Freiermuth is being grossly misused
I don't what it is about the Steelers this year, but many quality players seem to be hitting all-time lows. Pat Freiermuth is one of them. I've already expressed how he is on track to have the worst statistical production of his three-year NFL career. But it's more than just that; he is playing some pretty bad football right now.
Freiermuth doesn't look like his usual self out there. When putting on the all-22 film, he hasn't created much space as a route-runner and he hasn't been very consistent at the catch point. However, the worst part about his game is that he has been humiliated when trying to hold up as a run blocker this year.
There's no question that his plummeting play has to do with how misused he has been so far. While he's not an elite athlete with respect to other players at the position, it's easy to see that he is an 'F' tight end through and through. Also known as the 'Move' tight end, Freiermuth should be routinely lining up in the slot and running routes across the middle of the field.
Instead, the Steelers are using him too often as a 'Y' tight end -- an in-line TE used near the offensive line to assist with blocking. This clearly is not his game and it shows. When they have given him opportunities in the passing game, it's often on-screen passes that are poorly blocked and have no chance of success.
Freiermuth didn't all of a sudden become a bad football player before the age of 25. The Pittsburgh Steelers need to start using him correctly. As of now, it certainly looks like the collection of his poor usage, his injury history, and his decline in production will ultimately result in him missing out on millions of dollars on his next contract extension which could occur as early as the 2024 offseason.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.