Mike Tomlin’s advice to Steelers WR Diontae Johnson: ‘Don’t fumble anymore’
Never one to mince words, coach Mike Tomlin had a terse response on what advice he offered to Diontae Johnson after the rookie wide receiver lost a fumble on the second offensive snap against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Don’t fumble anymore.”
Johnson’s fumble led to a field goal that put the Steelers in an early three-point hole. It was the only points the Steelers allowed in a 27-3 victory.
Johnson atoned for his gaffe by leading Steelers wide receivers with six receptions for 77 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that pushed the lead to 24-3.
JuJu Smith-Schuster pulled Johnson aside and offered words of encouragement.
“He told me to keep my head up and keep playing,” Johnson said. “I just had to bounce back.”
Tomlin didn’t feel the need to provide such comfort.
“These guys are at this level because they are able to bounce back,” Tomlin said. “You’re not a National Football League player unless you can stare adversity in the face and overcome it. It’s probably not the first time he’s put the ball on the ground in his life. You show me any successful person in any walk of life, I’ll show you a guy that’s failed a lot and found ways to overcome it and endure.
“I’m not surprised when these guys respond appropriately to negativity. I’m more concerned about how they respond to positivity, to success and their ability to remain singularly focused. That’s more telling about the man in today’s game.”
Tomlin is taking a similar approach with veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief. After being inactive for the game at San Francisco, Moncrief was active against the Bengals but played only three snaps. Moncrief remains stuck on three catches for 7 yards through one quarter of the season.
“I like his attitude and work,” Tomlin said. “You don’t have to be in this a long time to realize the boomerang comes back around. He needs to be ready for it when it does.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .