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Kaboly: Diontae Johnson Physically Separated From Coach Before Long Discussion With Tomlin In Cleveland


If you think it’s frustrating to watch this Pittsburgh Steelers offense, imagine playing in it. As we’ve seen quite clearly this week, there is an increasing level of aggravation emanating from the locker room about the state of the unit. It’s becoming more and more visible, and showing up in more places among more people.

Indeed, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, there was a point in the second half of their loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in which T Broderick Jones intervened when WR Diontae Johnson was going after a member of the coaching staff.

He writes that Jones “had to pick him up and carry him away” to separate him from the unnamed coach, which precipitated a high-emotion interjection by head coach Mike Tomlin. The veteran wide receiver, who did not speak after the game, acknowledged to reporters yesterday that he was frustrated.

I was frustrated, but you can’t just sit there and blame [QB Kenny Pickett]”, he told reporters, referring to the multiple incidences of miscommunication between the two leading to incomplete passes in key moments during the game. “It’s a part of the game”.

He also declined to go into any detail about the conversation that he had with Tomlin. “You all have seen the game”, he said. “I shouldn’t have to say anything about that”.

Frustrations are perfectly reasonable when you’re playing in a unit that is supposed to be much more talented than the results indicate. For his part, Johnson is a Pro Bowl wide receiver, yet it’s an immense struggle for him to even find the end zone the way things are going. Indeed, his is the only touchdown pass Pickett has thrown since the Baltimore Ravens game in early October.

It is difficult to even specify the many ails that plague the offense right now. The players are finding it increasingly difficult to veil their frustrations, regardless of the cause. Certainly, there appears to be a significant amount of miscommunication going on, particularly this last week.

The Cleveland Browns have one of the top defenses in the league, but perhaps it was the raucous away environment that was an even bigger issue for the Steelers, given how many times things went wrong in just getting everyone to run the same play in the same way intended.

Given the long-standing issues that have persisted throughout the year, however, it’s hard to see how things turn themselves around in short order. Pittsburgh will be in Cincinnati this Sunday to face the Bengals. They may be without QB Joe Burrow, but they’ve already shown they can lose to a backup in Cleveland.

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