Diontae Johnson’s 2022 season has been a year already full of ups and downs. Spectacular catches, frustrating drops, and everything in between. Speaking to the media Thursday, OC Matt Canada gave Johnson a vote of confidence going forward.
“Diontae is our No. 1 receiver, he makes big plays, we know he’ll make them,” Canada said via team transcript. “He’s made them in the past.”
Like the rest of the Steelers’ offense, Johnson struggled in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. He couldn’t corral two plays along the sideline that would’ve gone for first downs or touchdowns, catching the ball but failing to get both feet in-bounds. Tough plays, no question, but ones he’s capable of making and one a #1 receiver in an offense has to be able to do.
But his biggest mistake came on a third down early in the game. Kenny Pickett found Johnson on a scramble drill, throwing back across his body. The pass was high but Johnson let it go through his hands, nearly picked off by the Bills. Couple that with other recent drops and missed opportunities and he’s yet to find consistency.
Still, Canada knows Johnson is capable of producing “wow” moments.
“You go back to – the games run together – the Bengals game, right? He had that tremendous catch on the sidelines. It’s not like we don’t know that Diontae can make catches and all our guys can make catches”
Canada’s referring to this catch Johnson made, an incredible one-handed snag along the sideline.
The play set up a potential game-winning field goal, though Chris Boswell missed the kick.
On the year, Johnson leads the team in receptions (28) and is second in yards (267). He also laps the field with 50 targets, 18 more than the next closest Steeler. But his average is a paltry 9.5, far removed from what he put up even in 2021’s limited offense, and he – like every other Steelers’ wide receiver – has yet to find the end zone.
Johnson and the Steelers’ offense will need to step up in big ways this weekend against a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Look for a full scouting report on the Bucs’ in the morning on the site.