The Duel

Mike Tomlin Followed Through on Threat to Steelers Wideouts

Max Staley
Diontae Johnson was finally benched for his issues with drops.
Diontae Johnson was finally benched for his issues with drops. / Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the youngest, most explosive wide receiver groups in the league. But it's not exactly the most sure-handed crew. The Steelers' 33 drops as a team are currently the most in the NFL.

Head coach Mike Tomlin had seen enough last week, threatening to bench wideouts who continued dropping passes. And after two first-quarter drops from burgeoning star Diontae Johnson last night, Tomlin wasted no time following through on that threat.

Johnson had played at least 75% of Pittsburgh's snaps in all of his healthy games this year, but he was limited to 49% after the demotion. As good as he's been at times, it's hard to blame Tomlin for telling Johnson to hit the pine.

His 12 drops are the most in the NFL, and he's actually the only player with double-digit drops on the year. Things are also trending in the wrong direction, as the second-year wideout has a whopping 6 drops in his last three appearances.

Still, it's going to be tough for Pittsburgh to justify keeping him off the field. Johnson is lightning quick and gets open with ease. There's a reason he leads the team in targets despite missing large chunks of time in 2020.

It's what he's done with those opportunities that has been the problem. And it's not like this is a new issue for Johnson, who had 6 drops in a more limited role last year.

Pittsburgh's offense won't reach its ceiling if Johnson isn't an every-down player. But he'll have to get over this hurdle if he wants to retain that role, and he's running out of time to do it.


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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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