Saturday, December 9, 2023

Steelers’ Diontae Johnson addresses overall frustration, criticism of Kenny Pickett after Browns loss

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Frustrations boiled over for Diontae Johnson during and after the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Johnson had to be separated from a member of the coaching staff during the game, and he threw quarterback Kenny Pickett under the bus on social media a day later. 

Johnson responded to a post/video pointing out the miscommunication issues between the receiver and quarterback during Sunday’s game. 

“Ran the route I was suppose to sir,” Johnson replied. “Jus saying anything for likes smh.”

Johnson sang a different tune when he spoke to the media on Monday. 

“We just gotta make it right at practice,” Johnson said of his communication with Pickett, via ESPN. “That’s where it starts. Stuff like that happens. Can’t fault him. He’s not perfect, so I can’t sit here and blame him. 

“Not pointing fingers at nobody. I was frustrated, but you can’t just sit here and blame him. It’s part of the game.”

Johnson wasn’t the only Steelers offensive player to express frustration after Sunday’s game. Running back Najee Harris said Pittsburgh’s current situation is not sustainable after the offense was out-gained for a 10th time in as many games. 

Harris also added to the ongoing belief that Pittsburgh’s offense is predictable. 

“In some situations, to be honest with you,” Harris said when asked if it seems like defenses know what’s coming. 

Unfortunately for the Steelers, this has been going on for a while. Wideout George Pickens posted “free me” while scrubbing the team from his social media following Pittsburgh’s Week 9 win over the Titans. Pickens has also displayed frustration during games. 

A positive is that the Steelers have improved their running game. Pittsburgh has rushed for 166, 205 and 172 yards in its last three games after only having two 100-yard efforts during the season’s first seven games. But the passing game continues to be a major issue, and it could be the difference between Pittsburgh making or missing the playoffs. 

“Record-wise, we’re good,” Harris said Sunday. “You can look at the record. You can do one of two things. You can look at the record and say, ‘OK, we’re still good right now,’ or you can look at the record and be like, ‘If we keep playing this type of football, how long is that shit gonna last?’ I look at it like, ‘How long is that shit going to last?’ Y’all can look at it like it’s a good record, but this is the NFL. Winning like how we did is not gonna get us nowhere.”

As far as Johnson, it’s understandable that he would want to stand up for himself when someone is criticizing him. But by doing so, he inadvertently blamed his quarterback while creating another unneeded distraction. 

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