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 16 road game against the New York Jets. In that game, Johnson had nine targets of which he caught eight of them for 81 yards and a touchdown. His average targeted distance against the Jets was 6.7 yards past the line of scrimmage and his average completion distance on his five receptions was 7.3 yards past the line of scrimmage. 23 yards were gained by Johnson after the catch against the Jets.
Target 1 – 3rd & 5 – 1Q – (9:02) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 35 for 9 yards (31-B.Austin; 58-J.Burgess).
Johnson’s first target against the Jets in Week 16 came midway through the first quarter and from quarterback Devlin Hodges. On this third-and-5 play, Johnson runs a short and quick pivot route from the left slot and easily gets open against the zone coverage. After making the catch well short of the chains, Johnson quickly finds room to his left for an easy first down.
Target 2 – 2nd & 6 – 2Q – (11:09) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson to NYJ 19 for 3 yards (23-A.Maulet).
Johnson’s second target against the Jets was also a completion and this one came on a power RPO play in the second quarter and on a second-and-6. On this play, Hodges chose Johnson on a quick in-breaking route on the field side right at the numbers. While it was a wide-open short pitch and catch, Johnson was unable to gain much yardage after making the grab.
Target 3 – 2nd & 12 – 2Q – (8:42) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass incomplete short left to 18-D.Johnson.
Johnson’s third target against the Jets came on a second-and-long play midway through the second quarter. On this play, Johnson ran a short underneath crosser from way on the left outside of the field. While Johnson has a lot of room to work with underneath, the pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph winds up being slightly behind him and the wide receiver fails to make the catch. While it’s tough to charge Johnson with a drop on this play, it’s a pass you’d like to see him catch with it being slightly behind him. Regardless, this was his lone incompleted target all game.
Target 4 – 1st & 10 – 2Q – (7:53) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 29 for 4 yards (33-J.Adams).
Johnson’s fourth target against the Jets was also an underneath crosser but this time the wide receiver ran it from the left side out of tighter split and two-man bunch. Rudolph did not connect with the open Johnson until long after he had crossed midfield. Johnson made the easy uncontested catch and immediately cut back the direction he came from and working up the field against the zone coverage. Even so, he managed to gain just 4 yards in total, all of which came after the catch.
Target 5 – 2nd & 8 – 2Q – (2:00) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short right to 18-D.Johnson ran ob at PIT 42 for 9 yards.
Johnson’s fifth target against the Jets came on a second-and-8 play late in the first half. On this play, Johnson ran a very nice out route against off coverage to the right bounty side of the field. Johnson did a great job on the route of getting the cornerback to open his hips before breaking outside. His plenty of cushion allowed for an easy sideline throw by Rudolph for a first down.
Target 6 – 1st & 10 – 2Q – (:09) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass deep left to 18-D.Johnson for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Johnson’s sixth target in this contest was his lone deep one in the game and it resulted in a touchdown late in the first half and on a first-and-10 play. On this play against a two-deep Jets coverage, Johnson ran a deep fly route outside the numbers. His slight nod fake to the inside about 10 yards into the route caused a slight pause by the Jets cornerback on that side. That slight hesitation on the part of the Jets cornerback was all Johnson needed to run past for the easy stack and Rudolph dropped the pass in the bucket in the end zone for the score.
Target 7 – 2nd & 10 – 3Q – (13:06) (Shotgun) 2-M.Rudolph pass short middle to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 45 for 5 yards (37-M.Canady).
Johnson’s seventh target against the Jets came in the third quarter and on a second-and-10 play. On this play, Johnson ran a short settle route against zone coverage. He did a good job of adjusting his route more toward the middle of the field after a zone linebacker came into his initial settle area. That slight adjustment by Johnson allowed Rudolph to have a clear passing lane to the wide receiver nearer the middle of the field. After making the catch, however, Johnson was immediately tackled and the play gained just 5 yards.
Target 8 – 2nd & 7 – 4Q – (11:28) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short right to 18-D.Johnson pushed ob at NYJ 32 for 15 yards (20-M.Maye).
Johnson’s eighth target against the Jets came in the fourth quarter ans on a second-and-7 play. This play also showed great route running by Johnson from start to finish and it allowed him to get quite a bit of separation against man-coverage on the outside for an easy catch. This curl route started with Johnson getting an outside release. His hard release to the outside,combined with him selling a deep vertical route, makes the Jets cornerback open up to start running with him. At about the 12 yard mark, Johnson then quickly drops his hits and curls back to the inside and back to the quarterback. After making the catch right at around the first down marker, Johnson still had enough separation from his defender that he was able to force a missed tackle attempt. He gained 15 yards in total thanks to his fine effort on the play.
Target 9 – 1st & 10 – 4Q – (1:27) (Shotgun) 6-D.Hodges pass short left to 18-D.Johnson to PIT 47 for 7 yards (34-B.Poole).
Johnson’s ninth and final target against the Jets came with less than two minutes remaining in the game and on a first-and-10. On this play, Johnson once again ran a quick in-breaking route from the right field side against zone coverage. He was easily connected with on a short pass 3 yards past the line of scrimmage and then was able to gain 4 more yards after making the grab.
Week 16 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
Diontae Johnson 2019 Target Contextualization – Week 15 – Bills