Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson was frustrated on Sunday during the team’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, and after as well, as he apparently waved reporters away from his locker postgame. There were miscommunications between Pickett and Johnson on multiple occasions yesterday, and Johnson came out and defended himself on Twitter.
In a video posted to Steelers.com today, Johnson said there are times he’s open and Pickett isn’t getting him the ball.
“Sometimes, yeah,” Johnson replied in response to a question asking if there are times he’s open and not getting the ball. “Film don’t lie. But just gotta keep playing.”
There have been instances since Johnson returned from his hamstring injury where he’s been open and Pickett hasn’t hit him. There have also been times he’s been open and hasn’t made a play on the ball, like his drop on the first play against the Jaguars in Week Eight. But yesterday had maybe the most egregious miss, with Pickett just not seeing a wide-open Johnson running a crosser over the middle of the field. If he makes the throw, it’s likely a touchdown and Pittsburgh could’ve won the game.
Pickett hasn’t been very good this season, particularly in recent weeks. He’s seemingly regressed from his rookie season, and his failures to get the ball to his playmakers have been a serious issue. He’s not going through his progressions, which has become more noticeable in recent weeks as he locks in one read and if it isn’t there, he doesn’t know what to do with the ball.
It’s causing frustration among his receivers, with Johnson, who was the NFL’s most open receiver last year, not getting the ball when he should. As Pittsburgh’s top receiver and a legitimate threat at the position alongside George Pickens, it feels as if his talent is being wasted right now.
The Steelers aren’t going anywhere if Pickett plays the way he did against the Browns. He had under 100 yards until his last throw of the game, and he looked wholly incapable of running the offense. It’s understandable that Johnson is frustrated, but backup QB Mitch Trubisky put the onus on both Pickett and Johnson to figure out what’s going on and work through their miscommunication.
The two of them have to figure something out, because Johnson is too good to only have two receptions in a game. Pickett has to find a way to get him the ball more and work through his reads and not miss Johnson when he’s coming across the field wide open. With how Pickett has played, you can’t blame his teammates for being annoyed. Right now, he’s costing them games, and if it keeps up, he could cost them a playoff berth.