Mike Tomlin answers questions about predictability of Steelers offense, lack of Diontae Johnson involvement

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin must have known the question was coming. In fact, a question alluding to Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt essentially calling Pittsburgh’s offense predictable after Sunday’s game was the first question posed to Tomlin during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

After the Bengals’ 37-30 win, Pratt was asked how Cincinnati’s offense was able to keep the Steelers’ offense to just 139 yards in the second half after giving up 212 yards and 20 points in the first half.

“I just moved in” Pratt told CBS Sports of the victorious locker room. “We were the ones giving them games. We knew what they were going to do. They like to play the same games over and over again.”

“It’s what they say when they’re successful, and they don’t say it when they’re not,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “And so I don’t worry a lot about it. I focus on the things that are within our control. When I watch the tape, there were some repeated concepts, but Cincinnati was in some repeated concepts. And that is football…” I don’t know if we were surprised by everything they did offensively. So it comes down to execution. And that’s where I like to stay focused.

“We have to execute better. We have to make achievable plays. And that’s our focus. And that’s where our focus is as we look at this week’s opportunity and less on some of the fodder that you’re talking about. . “

Tomlin agreed with a reporter who asked if better execution — thus leading to more big plays — could result in a bigger menu of games. If more big plays happen on the pitch, that would also help open things up for the running game and other areas of attack.

It may also help open things up for Diontae Johnson, the Steelers’ Pro Bowl wide who is yet to find the end zone in 10 games. Tomlin said more big plays from other Pittsburgh point guards, including rookie receiver George Pickens and tight end Pat Freiermuth, can help create more opportunities for Johnson.

“Let’s be upfront, okay. Diontae is the known commodity within the band, and so people are going to have a program to minimize its impact on the game, especially at important times,” Tomlin said. “Possession down, red zone football. When you have a guy who’s been a Pro Bowler, and really, he’s kind of the only one. You have a young group, [so] it is a component of it.”

Kenny Pickett’s continued growth is certainly a big factor in whether or not the Steelers offense will continue to show signs of growth over the final seven games of the season. Although Pratt and Co. may find it predictable, the Pittsburgh offense nonetheless found a way to score 30 points against one of the NFL’s best defensive units. The Steelers would have scored more points had it not been for a few missed chances in the second half as well as back-to-back penalties that ended a golden scoring opportunity with the Steelers in Bengals territory and just four points adrift early in the fourth quarter .

His record may not show it, but Pickett has shown tremendous growth during his short time as the Steelers’ starting quarterback. In addition to dealing with football (he went two games pickless after throwing eight in his first five games), Pickett made plays using his mobility. In Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, Pickett recorded his best passer rating of the year in a game he played for all four quarters. Last Sunday, his performance drew post-game praise from his counterpart Joe Burrow and veteran Bengals cornerback Eli Apple.

“He is able to extend the games” Apple told CBS Sports when asked about Pickett. “Made some big throws under some pressure. I thought he was brave there.”

“I think he did well today,” Burrow added. “He can build on that momentum he showed today. He has young people around him who he can build chemistry with. I think he did a great job today. I gave him said after the game to keep building on that one.”

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