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‘We Just Gotta Get It Worked Out’: Kenny Pickett Concerned About Communication Issues With Diontae Johnson


For the second straight week, quarterback Kenny Pickett and wide receiver Diontae Johnson weren’t on the same page.

That was the clearly case in emphatic fashion on Sunday in Cleveland in a 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns that dropped the Steelers to 6-4 on the season.

Throughout Sunday’s disastrous performance the two weren’t on the same page quite a few times, leading to some frustrations.

The two weren’t on the same page on a 3rd and 4 early in the game, leading to Johnson working across the formation rather than sitting like Pickett expected him to do. Incomplete pass.

Late in the third quarter, Pickett looked downfield for Johnson in a one-on-one matchup. Johnson continued to run downfield on a go route, but Pickett expected him to stop and sit for the back-shoulder throw. That fell harmlessly incomplete, and the Steelers punted. Then, late in the fourth quarter, Pickett dialed up the deep ball expecting Johnson to run a go route. This time though, Johnson ran the stop route looking for the back-shoulder ball that Pickett loves to throw.

The ball fell incomplete and the Steelers went three-and-out, allowing the Browns to march for the game-winning drive.

After the loss, Pickett was rather frustrated with the miscommunication issues with Johnson.

“It’s always concerning whenever it comes up. You don’t want to have that,” Pickett said after the loss, according to video via “We just gotta get it worked out.”

Asked to clarify if it was a miscommunication on the route late in the game with Johnson, or if it was something the Browns defense did on the play, Pickett said, “Yeah, miscommunication on the route.”

The fact that the communication issues are happening so frequently between Pickett and Johnson is rather concerning. Granted, Johnson missed four weeks with an injury, but he’s been back for four weeks and has been targeted heavily by Pickett. So, the fact that these two can’t get on the same page based on looks defenses are giving them is a major problem.

It occurred last week against Green Bay, too. Johnson made a sight adjustment on a key third down with a single-high safety and man coverage. Johnson won easily and was wide open deep; Pickett never saw him.

Then, on Sunday their inability to get on the same page and be in the same area code on routes where the Browns gave certain looks made the communication issues all the more concerning for the Steelers between quarterback and receiver.

You never want to see that, especially between two guys that are so important offensively. They have to get it ironed out — and fast. No excuses at this point in the season.

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