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 15 home game against the Buffalo Bills. In that game, Johnson had seven targets of which he caught five of them for 62 yards. His average targeted distance against the Bills was 7.6 yards past the line of scrimmage and his average completion distance on his five receptions was 7.4 yards past the line of scrimmage. 25 yards were gained by Johnson after the catch against the Bills.
Target 1 – 2nd & 8 – 1Q – (10:56) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass incomplete short left to 18-D.Johnson.
Johnson’s first target against the Bills in Week 15 came with him running a short dig route from the left side of the field against a cover-1 man look. Johnson was open on the play 6 yards past the line of scrimmage but quarterback Devlin Hodges threw wide of the wide receiver. The off-target throw fortunately wasn’t intercepted by the cornerback covering Johnson.
Target 2 – 3rd & 8 – 1Q – (10:53) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short left to 18-D.Johnson pushed ob at PIT 45 for 11 yards (39-L.Wallace).
Johnson’s second target against the Bills wound up being his first catch of the game and it came on the third-and-8 play right after his first failed target. The catch came along the left sideline and after Hodges had extended the play by drifting out of the pocket to his left. Johnson, seeing Hodges extend the play, worked back toward the quarterback and to the sideline. At the same time, fellow Steelers wide receiver James Washington adjusted his route and he was running to the same area as Johnson was. Hodges’ pass found a open and leaping Johnson right at the sideline and the wide receiver was able to make the grab and get both feet down in the field of play for an 11-yard reception and a first down.
Target 3 – 1st & 10 – 3Q – (14:53) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass deep right to 18-D.Johnson to BUF 40 for 29 yards (58-M.Milano). FUMBLES (58-M.Milano).
Johnson’s third target against the Bills also wound up being a catch and this time it happened on a first-and-10 play early in the second half. On this play, Johnson beat press coverage outside off the line and on the right side of the formation. He had a good amount of separation and Hodges was able to fit the deep pass into the wide receiver after he had stacked his defender and prior to the middle-field safety arriving. Johnson managed to break an initial tackle attempt after making the catch and while he gained an additional 9 yards, he did fumble on his way to the ground. Thankfully, a Steelers wide receiver recovered the loose football.
Target 4 – 1st & 10 – 4Q – (1:34) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right intended for 18-D.Johnson INTERCEPTED by 27-T.White at BUF 33.
Johnson’s fourth target against the Bills was a disaster. On this play, an out-route by Johnson to the field side on the right against an off zone coverage, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White read Hodges perfectly and broke on the ill-advised pass to Johnson early. To make matters worse, Hodges’ pass to Johnson was off target and to the inside of the wide receiver and that additionally aided White in making the interception.
Target 5 – 1st & 10 – 4Q – (5:13) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson pushed ob at PIT 23 for 4 yards (24-T.Johnson).
Johnson’s fifth target against the Bills came on a first-and-10 play in the final quarter. This catch for 4 yards came on a wide receiver screen to the right boundary side of the field against a zone coverage. No defender was within 10 yards of Johnson when he made the easy catch outside the numbers and he proceeded to gain 6 yards after making the catch 2 yards behind the original line of scrimmage before running out of bounds at the right sideline.
Target 6 – 2nd & 6 – 4Q – (4:41) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 33 for 10 yards (23-M.Hyde).
Johnson’s sixth target in this contest was also a catch and this one came on a second-and-6 later in the fourth quarter. On this play, Johnson was a relief valve target on the left side against a zone coverage. Johnson essentially laid back like on a wide receiver screen play and Hodges got the football to him a yard behind the line of scrimmage after going through his reads and not finding anyone open. After making the catch way outside the numbers, Johnson gained 11 yards and broke two tackle attempts in the process.
Target 7 – 3rd & 7 – 4Q – (:44) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson ran ob at BUF 26 for 8 yards.
Johnson’s seventh and final target against the Bills was also a catch and this one moved the chains late in the game on a third-and-7. On this play, Johnson ran a short out-breaking route to the right side against man-coverage out of a nasty tight split. Johnson being given a sizable cushion, combined with Hodges throwing the football to the outside of the wide receiver, resulted in an easy catch and conversion right along the right sideline.
Week 15 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
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 14 – Cardinals