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Diontae Johnson Uses No-Good Word to Describe Steelers Season




Diontae Johnson dropped the word no Steelers fan wants to hear.

Speaking with media following the Steelers’ 24-20 loss to the Jets Sunday at Acrisure Stadium, Johnson, the team’s number-one wide receiver, let it fly.

“Obviously it’s a rebuilding year…” Johnson said (h/t 93.7 the Fan’s Josh Rowntree for the video).

I’m not going to transcribe the rest of the quote.

Johnson, right there in that short clip, said it all.

Bring out Pressley Harvin. This Steelers season is a punt.

Studying the team’s performance thus far in 2022, those painful words ring true.

The Steelers, at 1-3, are one healthy Bengals long snapper away from starting 0-4. Sure, they’ve played some close games, including Sunday’s defeat against the Jets. They’ve been without 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt for the past three weeks, too.

But to pretend this Steelers team is anywhere near a contender is just asinine.

The team ranks:

  • 30th in total yards per game
  • 27th in passing yards per game
  • 25th in points per game
  • 24th in yards per game allowed
  • 15th in points per game allowed
  • 12th in turnover differential
  • 11th in sacks

Through four games, the Steelers have scored 74 points.

Kicker Chris Boswell accounts for 30 of them. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick accounts for six.

That’s right. Forty-eight percent of the Steelers’ points thus far in 2022 go through special teams and defense.

Now, it’s not unusual for a kicker to contribute greatly to his team’s scoring output. But 41% is a lot. The NFL’s highest-scoring team, the Lions (yes, seriously), have put up 140 points this season through four games. Offensive players account for 80 percent of those points, with special teams covering the final 20 percent.

That’s more ideal.

For the 2022 Steelers then, the defense marks the “high point” of the team, but even there, you’re getting excited about mid-level NFL rankings. The team is sacking the quarterback and generating turnovers at a slightly-higher-than-league-average rate.


It doesn’t add up to much for this crew, especially without Watt.

“Fourteen points in the fourth (quarter allowed),” Heyward said after the Jets loss. “The offense did enough. As a defense, we didn’t get off the field enough, especially in the second half. And that’s gonna haunt me.”

That said, the Steelers’ anemic offense did seem to enjoy a brief charge from 2022 rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett.

The Pitt product Pickett entered the Jets game in the second half and punched in two rushing touchdowns while also developing a connection with rookie wide receiver George Pickens, who finished with a season-best six catches for 102 yards.

But Pickett also threw three interceptions and failed to keep drives alive in the fourth quarter with his team ahead.

“I thought that, you know, we picked it up in the second half there,” Pickett said after the game. “We had the ball moving, but the turnovers killed us, and that’s on me, so I got to get that right quickly.”

From there, the Steelers’ defense crumbled late –– again –– allowing the Jets to score the game-winning touchdown on a run from Breece Hall. If you saw the Patriots’ final drive against the Steelers to seal the win at Acrisure Stadium, you saw the Jets’ final drive against the Steelers, too.

This pattern points to one thing, and that’s a clear identity for the 2022 Steelers.

So get excited about Pickett and Pickens and Freiermuth and the return of Watt and all those future plans. If you’re a Steelers fan, that’s where you’ll need to center your attention to avoid more short-term heartbreak.

The present team is more than a little icky, and the players know it.

The rebuild is underway.

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