The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t report for their 2020 training camp for at least a month from now so that means we still have a lot of time to fill with offseason content. For the next few weeks, I will have a series that focuses on every target that went to Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson during his 2019 rookie season. This series will include a quick breakdown and contextualization of every target that Johnson had in 2019 by game in addition to other data related to each play.
This series will move forward with a look at Johnson’s targets in the Steelers Week 12 road game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In that game, Johnson had six targets of which he caught three of them for 29 yards. His average targeted distance against the Bengals was 7.7 yards past the line of scrimmage and his average completion distance on his three receptions was 8.3 yards past the line of scrimmage. 4 yards were gained by Johnson after the catch against the Bengals.
Target 1 – 1st & 10 – 1Q – (6:57) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 31 for 6 yards (22-W.Jackson III).
Johnson’s first target and reception against the Bengals came midway through the first quarter and on a first-and-10 play. On this play, Johnson runs a nice out-breaking route against zone coverage for an uncontested catch. This route shows Johnson getting out to Bengals cornerback William Jackson III quickly and forcing the gate open to the inside right before sticking a foot in the ground and breaking to the outside. Quarterback Mason Rudolph easily hits Johnson for what wound up being a 6-yard gain.
Target 2 – 3rd & 8 – 1Q – (4:13) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to CIN 31 for 9 yards (22-W.Jackson III).
Johnson’s second target against the Bengals also resulted in a catch. On this third-and-8 play, Johnson ran a deep stop route on the left side and at the top of the route had to adjust and work back toward Rudolph along the sideline due to great coverage by Jackson. Really a nice effort by Johnson to effectively push Jackson past him so he could break back toward the football.
Target 3 – 2nd & 2 – 2Q – (:59) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass incomplete short right to 18-D.Johnson.
Johnson’s third target against the Bengals came on an out-breaking route on the right side of the field on second-and-2 play late in the first half. On this play, which ultimately was an incomplete pass, Johnson had plenty of separation coming out of his break at the top of the route. The problem is, however, that it looks like he might have had a slight stumble coming out of his break and if so, it was likely enough to throw of the timing of Rudolph’s pass, which was a tad outside. Johnson seemingly got one hand on the football, but there is not enough evidence to score this as a drop. This pass should have been completed, however.
Target 4 – 3rd & 13 – 3Q – (13:42) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass incomplete short middle to 18-D.Johnson.
Johnson’s fourth target against the Bengals was also a pass that probably should have been completed. On this third-and-13 play early in the third quarter, Johnson ran a deep sit-down route against a Bengals zone coverage. Johnson settled in the middle of a triangle of three Bengals defensive players and was opening long enough for Rudolph to get him the football. Rudolph, however, had been struggling throughout the game and his lack of confidence got the best of him on this play and resulted in him bouncing the football several yards ahead of Johnson. This poor pass by Rudolph was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the young quarterback was immediately benched in favor of quarterback Devlin Hodges.
Target 5 – 1st & 10 – 3Q – (2:24) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 30 for 14 yards (23-B.Webb).
Johnson’s fifth target against the Bengals came late in the third quarter and from Hodges. On this first-and-10 play, Johnson ran a slant against off-man coverage and did a great job of catching a pass that was a bit too far out in front of him and almost past him. Johnson gained another 5-yards after the catch.
Target 6 – 1st & 10 – 3Q – (1:45) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass incomplete short right to 18-D.Johnson (94-S.Hubbard).
Johnson’s sixth and final target against the Bengals was a designed wide receiver screen to the right side of the field. On this play, However, Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard was able to get a hand on the quick pass from Hodges right after it was delivered and that managed to redirect the football into the ground and way short of Johnson.
Week 12 Diontae Johnson Target Recap
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 1 – Patriots
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 2 – Seahawks
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 3 – 49ers
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 4 – Bengals
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 5 – Ravens
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 6 – Chargers
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 8 – Dolphins
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 9 – Colts
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 10 – Rams
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 11 – Browns