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Report: Diontae Johnson, Minkah Fitzpatrick Had ‘Heated’ Spat after Browns Loss



Steelers WR Diontae Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson and coach Frisman Jackson argue on the sideline against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 19, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick got into a heated argument after their loss against the Cleveland Browns, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported. According to Schefter’s report, Johnson, who chirped with wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson on the football field, continued spatting with coaches on the way back to the locker room. Johnson was furious when they returned to the locker room, and Fitzpatrick intervened. That turned into a ‘heated’ argument ending with T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward separating Johnson and Fitzpatrick.

“Diontae Johnson’s on-field frustration last Sunday in Cleveland continued after the game in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room, where he got into a heated argument with teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick before Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt broke up the altercation and delivered a message that the team needed to stick together,” Schefter wrote.

It would later prove that this was part of the impetus that forced the Steelers to make a change at offensive coordinator. They fired Matt Canada on Tuesday, and running back coach Eddie Faulkner and quarterback coach Mike Sullivan will split duties. This situation with Fitzpatrick got heated to the point where it could have worsened.

“One source told ESPN that Johnson, the Steelers’ second-leading receiver, continued “chirping” at the Steelers’ coaches all the way into the locker room, where Fitzpatrick — a three-time first-team All Pro — began arguing with Johnson. The words between Johnson and Fitzpatrick became “heated,” in the words of another source, before Heyward and Watt intervened and prevented the situation from getting worse,” Schefter wrote.

Those sources indicate that the locker room seems to have moved on from the incident after Canada got fired. Diontae Johnson is not the only person to show displeasure this season, with George Pickens and Najee Harris also expressing severe questions.

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson before his team’s game against the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 2, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“Y’all seen the game,” Johnson said. “I shouldn’t have to say anything about it.”

Johnson and Kenny Pickett were notably not on the same page multiple times in Sunday’s game, and Johnson insinuated that was adding to his frustration. While he stopped short of directly blaming Pickett for the confusion, it seems clear that Johnson feels like he was in the right when the two weren’t on the same wavelength.

“Stuff like that happens. I can’t fault him (Pickett) for that,” Johnson said. “He’s not perfect, I can’t sit here and blame him. I’m not pointing fingers at nobody. I was frustrated, but you can’t just sit here and blame him. It’s part of the game.”

After the heated argument, the Steelers hope they can move on from the tension and have an improved offense that can lead them to wins and a berth in the playoffs.