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 14 road game against the Arizona Cardinals. In that game, Johnson had eight targets of which he caught six of them for 60 yards and a touchdown. His average targeted distance against the Cardinals was 5.1 yards past the line of scrimmage and his average completion distance on his six receptions was 6.2 yards past the line of scrimmage. 23 yards were gained by Johnson after the catch against the Cardinals.
Target 1 – 2nd & 10 – 2Q – (1:14) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass deep right to 18-D.Johnson pushed ob at ARI 23 for 18 yards (32-B.Baker).
Johnson’s first target against the Cardinals in Week 14 was an impressive route and win on his part and it came late in the first haf. On this second-and-10 play, Johnson runs a deep out route from just outside the numbers on the right boundary side of the field. Making this route and ultimately catch more impressive is that Johnson essentially beat a two-man bracket coverage and against Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Budda Baker at that. He did a great job of selling the route as a potential deep post at first before breaking outside.
Target 2 – 3rd & 13 – 2Q – (:22) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short middle to 18-D.Johnson to ARI 19 for 7 yards (32-B.Baker).
Johnson’s second target against the Cardinals also resulted in a catch and this one was a lot easier. On this third-and-13 play late in the first half, Johnson ran a short underneath crosser from the right side of the formation and against an off coverage protecting the sticks. Johnson had nobody on him underneath and after making the catch just shy of the middle of the field, he gained an additional 6 yards. Even so, the play resulted in a failed third down conversion.
Target 3 – 2nd & 5 – 3Q – (14:16) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass incomplete short left to 18-D.Johnson [95-R.Gunter].
Johnson’s third target against the Cardinals wound up an incomplete one. On this second-and-5 play early in the third quarter, the Steelers offense ran an RPO (run-pass-option). After getting the snap, there seems to be some indecision on the part of not only Johnson and the route he’s supposed to run, but quarterback Devlin Hodges and where he expects the wide receiver to be, as well. Johnson starts the play as if he is to lay back for a wide receiver screen as part of an RPO but then starts breaking up the field last second. Hodges also had some pressure not long after the snap and was hit upon getting rid of the football. That resulted in the pass to Johnson being well away from him. It’s really hard to say which player was at fault here but the play seemed doomed right from the start just the same. Luckily this pass was not intercepted.
Target 4 – 1st & 10 – 3Q – (3:48) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson to ARI 2 for 14 yards (32-B.Baker).
Johnson’s fourth target against the Cardinals came on an RPO as well and inside the red zone on a first-and-10. On this play, Hodges decided to go to Johnson on the wide receiver screen and initially that looked like it would be a failed play. Johnson, however, somehow managed to avoid the first tackle attempt after making the catch and then reversed direction to the left to find room to run. Not only did Johnson find room on the left side of the field, he almost scored. In all, Johnson gained 18 yards after masking the catch 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Target 5 – 2nd & 2 – 3Q – (2:05) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short left to 18-D.Johnson for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Johnson’s fifth target against the Cardinals wound up being a short touchdown reception. On this play, Johnson started his route as if it’s a corner fade and then runs a pylon comeback. The snap to Hodges was very low but fortunately the young quarterback was able to corral it quickly. He then proceeded to throw a very impressive pass to the pylon and it was virtually the only location he could have placed it to give Johnson a good chance of catching it. Johnson effectively used his body to shield off the defender on his comeback and made the catch for the score.
Target 6 – 3rd & 8 – 4Q – (9:01) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 40 for 2 yards (21-P.Peterson).
Johnson’s sixth target in this contest was also a catch and this one also came on a third down. On this play, the Cardinals ran a zone blitz and Hodges, after a first hitch, finally got the ball out to Johnson, who at the snap seemed to be running another short underneath crosser. Johnson had to adjust to the hitched throw but managed to make the catch without a defender within 5 yards from him. After making the grab, however, Johnson only managed another yard for a total gain of 2 and a failed third down conversion.
Target 7 – 3rd & 13 – 4Q – (2:14) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass deep left to 18-D.Johnson to ARI 9 for 17 yards (32-B.Baker).
Johnson’s sixth target against the Cardinals came with just a little more than two minutes left in the game and on a third-and-long. This really was a great play by both Johnson and Hodges on this third down on what ended up being an extended play. Johnson, against what looked to be a half-field coverage for the deep Cardinals safety, managed to work back toward a scrambling Hodges after the quarterback was flushed out of the pocket to his left. Hodges found an open Johnson just past the chains and made a great throw to the wide receiver while on the move. Johnson caught the pass to give the Steelers a first down and the ability to kill more time off the clock during an important drive.
Target 8 – 2nd & 12 – 4Q – (1:55) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass incomplete short right to 18-D.Johnson (55-Cha.Jones).
Johnson’s eighth and final target against the Cardinals came late in the fourth quarter and on a second-and-long play. This play, an RPO (run-pass-option), ultimately had Hodges attempting to complete a quick wide receiver screen pass to Johnson on the right side. Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones read it perfect, however, and he was able to get a hand on the pass from Hodges and that ultimately resulted in the football hitting the ground incomplete before reaching Johnson.
Week 14 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
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 12 – Bengals
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 13 – Browns