Steelers News

Diontae Johnson ‘Can’t Just Keep Worrying About Me Getting Into The End Zone’

When you sign an $18 million-a-year contract extension and produce zero touchdowns the following season, you’re going to field some very harsh criticism. That just comes with the territory. That Diontae Johnson managed to catch 86 passes with none of them finding the end zone is truly remarkable, and as we’ve talked about a number of times, unprecedented in NFL history.

But is that who Diontae Johnson is? The same player who caught eight touchdowns a season earlier and went to the Pro Bowl? The reality is that neither the eight touchdowns nor the zero touchdowns matter as far as the future is concerned. Neither is predictive of what 2023 will look like. And he understands that it can’t be a focus.

I can’t just keep worrying about me getting into the end zone”, he said at the end of the season, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in a recent article. “I am not really worried about it, but at the same time it’s hard to deal with. But it is what it is”.

After all, when you’re a wide receiver, your primary job is to catch touchdown passes. You’re paid to score points. He actually did score four points this year—he caught two passes for two-point conversions, including one in the finale—but that’s, uh, besides the point.

It should be a given that in order for a wide receiver to have an 86-catch season and not have any touchdowns, especially for one who has been able to score in the past, there are a number of contributing factors at play beyond his own role, including just bad luck. He would have had a sure touchdown in the finale had it not been batted at the line of scrimmage, for example. There have been other near misses as well.

“Every season, things aren’t going to go your way”, he said about the season. “Maybe next year might be my year to get into the end zone, like, 10-plus (times), whatever it is. So I just need to focus on me and doing the right things”.

It’s important to keep the perspective that this was a Steelers offense in 2022 that only put up 12 passing touchdowns, the fewest in the entire league. In the modern era, such low numbers only show up about once per year or so on average. And the Steelers posting a winning record in such a season is very rare.

Rookie wide receiver George Pickens led the team in touchdown receptions. He had four. And two of them came in the final three games of the season. This is a transitional offense with a young quarterback who has been open about his struggles in adjusting to playing in the red zone at the NFL level.

Johnson would certainly do himself no favors obsessing over his lack of scores last year, as though it’s some impenetrable barrier that he hasn’t crossed before. But they will have to put a plan together in the offseason to reverse this before it becomes a trend.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!