It's been a tough follow-up for Diontae Johnson after netting his first Pro Bowl appearance last season. The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver has seen his numbers plummet, with a glaring goose egg in the touchdowns department.
Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett – who's navigating through his own challenges as the team's new starting QB – was vocal about the need for a more conscious effort to get the Steelers' star wideout involved, via Steelers Wire:
“If he’s getting doubled, it’s tough to get him the ball. They know how great of a player he is,” Pickett said. “I think if we move him around and don’t keep him in the same spot, it’s a great way to get him some opportunities.”
It's always a two-way street when it comes to the passing attack in football. The QB needs to make the right reads while the WR needs to make the right plays to help each other on the field and on the box score.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has spoken at length about Diontae Johnson's struggles, which he attributes partly to the lack of veteran experience amongst the team's other receivers. That's left Johnson as the primary focus for opposing defenses to key in on.
But despite that added challenge, all parties involved need to be better when it comes to maximizing Johnson – including the player himself. With Pittsburgh falling to 3-7 and slipping out of the playoff picture, getting the team's pieces working like a well-oiled machine around Kenny Pickett becomes a much greater prerogative than the bottom line to build off for next season.