Sitting at 2-5 with one of the league’s worst offenses, it’s easy to have a negative mindset. Not much has gone right for that group this season. While WR Diontae Johnson has visibly shown that frustration at times this season, he told reporters Wednesday he wants to have a positive attitude the rest of the year. One that will hopefully trickle down to the rest of the group.
“I am trying to keep a positive mindset through this whole season right now,” he said as shared by WTAE’s Emily Giangreco. “It’s tough.”
On a personal level, Johnson’s numbers are down across the board. He’s on pace to finish the year with 92 receptions for just 818 yards and has yet to find the end zone this season after making eight trips there a season ago. Johnson’s average has plummeted to just 8.9 yards per reception and his longest catch this year has gone for just 25 yards. He’s also on pace for just 128 yards of YAC this year; in every other season, he’s surpassed at least 300 yards and had more than 500 in 2021. Johnson has had to adjust to two different quarterbacks in Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, two players who have looked his way less often than Ben Roethlisberger did last season.
Pittsburgh still has a young offense and in the fourth year of his career, Johnson is one of the team’s longest-tenured players on that side of the ball. In fact, RT Chukwuma Okorafor is the only offensive starter who has been with the team longer than Johnson. Now considered a veteran, Johnson recognized he has to lead by example.
“We’re just trying to do whatever we can to turn this around. I can’t get frustrated. I’ve got to be an example to the group. Continue to lead and act like nothing’s wrong.”
The reality is there’s plenty wrong with the Steelers’ offense. They rank 31st in points per game at barely more than 15 per game and their offense hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a game this season, the only offense in football who have failed to reach that mark. The only time the team has eclipsed that mark came in Week One when Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-six was responsible for the first points of the season. Pittsburgh’s offense lacks splash plays, just one over 40 yards this season, while the team’s longest run comes from WR Gunner Olszewski and only netted 18 yards. The pass game has thrown far more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (five) while the offense sits in the 20’s in third down offense (20th) and red zone offense (22nd).
While the offense may make small strides, they figure to remain one of the league’s worst this season, meaning Johnson will have to keep his frustrations in check into the new year.