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 eight targets in the Steelers Week 5 road game against the Baltimore Ravens. In that game he had eight targets of which he caught five of them for 27 yards. His average targeted distance against the Ravens was 9.4 yards past the line of scrimmage and his average completion distance on his five receptions was just 4.2 yards past the line of scrimmage. Just 2 yards were gained by Johnson after the catch against the Ravens.
Target 1 – 2nd & 6 – 2Q – (10:50) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 31 for 2 yards (26-M.Canady).
Johnson’s first target against the Ravens came in the second quarter and was on a mesh route concept. Traveling from right to left after the snap, Johnson avoids trash in the middle of the field against man coverage and catches the pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph just 1-yard past the line of scrimmage while running horizontally. after making the catch, Johnson can only manage to gain one extra yard due to a nice tackle by Ravens cornerback Maurice Canady.
Target 2 – 3rd & 5 – 2Q – (8:17) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass incomplete short left to 18-D.Johnson.
Johnson’s second target against the Ravens was a simple pivot route with him on the left side of the formation. Johnson had separation coming out of the break but the throw from Rudolph was off the mark to the wide receiver and way to the outside. It was a third-and-5 play and with the route depth run by Johnson on the play, it would have been tough for him to get the first down had he made the catch as he would have likely needed to break one tackle attempt.
Target 3 – 1st & 10 – 2Q – (3:06) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass incomplete deep left to 18-D.Johnson. Coverage 26-Canaday.
Johnson’s third target against the Ravens was a go route on the left side against man-coverage with one deep safety on the field. While Johnson won to the inside early in his route by getting Canaday turned around, the Ravens cornerback recovered quickly to stay in phase and was thus never quite stacked. Rudolph’s deep throw to Johnson was outside and along the sideline while Johnson’s route path took him closer to the numbers. This pass attempt never seemingly had a shot to be completed at any point during the play.
Target 4 – 1st & 10 – 2Q – (2:52) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short right to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 32 for 7 yards (26-M.Canady).
A properly run curl route by Johnson later in the second quarter resulted in his second reception of the game on a first-and-10 play. This time, Johnson worked back to the football from the top of his route. after making the catch, however, Johnson was quickly brought to the ground by Canady for a gain of 7 yards.
Target 5 – 1st & 10 – 2Q – (2:01) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass incomplete short left to 18-D.Johnson.
Johnson’s fifth target in the game against the Ravens included the wide receiver running a post route against off coverage. Rudolph, however, was unable to get the pass attempt anywhere close to Johnson due to him being hit as he was releasing the football. This was the third uncatchable target to Johnson of the game.
Target 6 – 3rd & 8 – 3Q – (5:51) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson to BAL 19 for 13 yards (26-M.Canady). FUMBLES (26-M.Canady), ball out of bounds at BAL 19.
Johnson’s sixth target against the Johnson was the first pass attempt of the game by quarterback Devlin Hodges, who replaced a concussed Rudolph in the early stages of the third quarter. While the pre snap audible was reportedly a mess on this play, according to Hodges, the outcome was fine as the young quarterback hooked up with the young wide receiver on a nicely timed out-breaking route to the right side of the field. The football was right on Johnson as he came out of the break. While Johnson did catch the football, it was quickly knocked loose from him after he had established possession. Luckily for Johnson, the fumbled ball went out of bounds.
Target 7 – 1st & 10 – 3Q – (5:22) (Shotgun) Direct snap to 38-J.Samuels. 38-J.Samuels pass short middle to 18-D.Johnson to BAL 27 for -8 yards. Lateral to 80-J.Holton to BAL 15 for 12 yards (44-M.Humphrey).
Johnson’s seventh target if the game and his fourth catch was merely a result of him being in the middle of a trick play reverse. Johnson took a quick flip from running back Jaylen Samuels in the backfield and then quickly lateraled to reversing wide receiver Johnny Holton.
Target 8 – 3rd & 17 – 4Q – (7:37) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short middle to 18-D.Johnson to BAL 46 for 5 yards (29-E.Thomas, 99-M.Judon).
Johnson’s eighth and final target in the game against the Ravens came on a third-and-17 play midway through the fourth quarter. Against a blitz from the Ravens, Johnson ran an underneath crossing route from left to right with no defender close to him. Hodges connected with Johnson in the middle of the field, but the wide receiver could only gain an additional 4 yards after the catch and the Steelers drive stalled. Even if Johnson would have somehow picked up the first down after the catch, the play would have been negated by a holding penalty.
Week 5 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