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Diontae Johnson Confident In Passing Game: ‘Nobody Can Really Stop Us On Third Down’

On Wednesday, WR Diontae Johnson spoke to the media and talked about last week’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders and gave his thought about the team’s upcoming rematch against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

When Diontae was asked if it was QB Kenny Pickett’s mobility as a passer that has helped the Steelers receivers uncover against DBs like Saturday night against the Raiders, Johnson suggested that it had less to do with Pickett’s athleticism extending plays and more to do with the receivers’ ability to get open, specifically on third downs.

“I don’t want to say that,” Johnson responded to the media regarding Pickett’s mobility being a factor on video from Steelers.com.” I mean yeah, part of that, but mostly just us winning those one-on-one matchups on third downs. We’ve been showing that cause nobody can really stop us on third down and whatnot.”

It’s interesting that Diontae Johnson mentions that Pittsburgh’s receivers can’t be stopped on third down after seeing this offense struggle mightily on the money down throughout the 2022 season.  While the offense has been better on third down as of late, they still haven’t had the success they need to have to be just an average offense in the NFL. Just last week against the Raiders, Pittsburgh was just 5/14 of third down conversions (35.7%) and largely didn’t do anything offensively until the final drive of the game. They were better the week prior in Carolina (75%) but have sat at a 50% conversion rate the previous three weeks against the Ravens, Falcons, and Colts.

The Steelers are averaging a poor 17.6 PPG in 2022, worse than the dreaded 2019 season where a combination of Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph quarterbacked the Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season two games in with a season-ending elbow injury. The offense hasn’t been good to put it bluntly. Sure, there has been signs of improvement and Pickett has shown growth since the bye, but this offense isn’t anywhere close to where it needs to be to be considered a playoff contender.

It feels like Johnson may have misspoke when he said that “nobody” can really stop the Steelers on third down. To be honest, the Steelers have been their own worst enemy at times on third down, whether it be penalties, a breakdown in pass protection, or missed opportunities between QB and pass catcher.  I’m glad he speaks with confidence in the team’s ability to move the football and convert on third down, but this statement comes off a little misplaced. We will see if Johnson’s play can match his works come New Year’s Day when the Steelers look to upset the Ravens on the road, getting revenge from Week 14 when the offense turned the ball over multiple times, ceding victory to Baltimore.

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