Doug Whaley Blasts Steelers’ WR: ‘Lack Of Consistency’ With Effort, Route Running Holding Diontae Johnson Back

It was a rather difficult season for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who failed to find the end zone in 2022 despite hauling in 86 passes for 882 yards.

Numbers-wise, Johnson was decent overall, but didn’t quite live up to the lucrative extension he signed during training camp, inking a two-year deal worth a little more than $16 million per season. The failure to get into the end zone, along with his at-times-frustrating drops and propensity to run backwards after the catch searching for the big play frustrated many within the media and fanbase.

Now, former Buffalo Bills’ GM and former front office member for the Steelers, Doug Whaley, is unnecessarily piling onto the Steelers’ standout receiver, questioning his effort and route running in regards to what is holding him back during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan’s Morning Show Wednesday. 

“His lack of consistency is what holds him back, not only with hands, but with effort and route running,” Whaley said regarding Johnson’s struggles, according to 93.7 The Fan. 

If you want to criticize Johnson, the issues with the drops and avoidance of contact after the catch are certainly fair criticism. Questioning the guy’s effort and route running — of which he is one of the best in the league — is way off base from Whaley, who sounds largely out of touch with the league and the player overall with his comments.

The drops issues are a major frustration overall and are a key criticism for Johnson. Though the drops and drop percentage has dramatically declined in recent seasons from his 2020 struggles due to the hard work he’s put in to improve his hands, the criticism still remains for many in the fanbase, regardless of how one tries and provides context to the drops overall.

Criticizing Johnson’s effort and route running is absurd though.

He’s one of the hardest workers on the Steelers, consistently being the first one down the hill in training camp to get work in on his hand-eye coordination before practice each and every day for roughly 30-45 minutes, and is routinely one of the first on the field on game-day to go through his pre-game workouts to be ready to go.

As far as route running goes, few are better in the league today at creating separation than Johnson. He’s a master at it. Nothing within his route running is holding him back. Whaley sounds like he’s largely just making stuff up at this point to pile on Johnson.

Criticize the hands, the lack of consistent production last season compared to his numbers in previous season, and maybe even criticize the contract. But criticizing his effort and route running is tone deaf and so far removed from the truth. It’s a shame nobody on the Fan Morning Show checked Whaley on his comments.

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