Martavis Bryant served his four-game suspension to open the 2015 season quietly and upon his return, it was thought he would be ready to set the NFL on fire. With Antonio Brown getting the bulk of the attention from opposing defenses, common sense said Bryant should benefit in a big way.
Bryant’s first game back was thought to be in week five at San Diego but we were told he tweaked a knee in practice that week and it would delay his return. Don’t buy that for a second. He was serving a “Mike Tomlin imposed” penalty and instead made his debut at home against Arizona.
Out of the gate, Bryant ripped the Cardinals for 137 yards and two scores and then would have 100 plus yards receiving against Cleveland and Indianapolis and then 10 receptions against Denver in the home finale.
Since then, something isn’t right.
Last week in Baltimore, Bryant had one reception for six yards on three targets. Today, he was targeted three times again and one reception for zero yards. Coming into this week I was told Ben Roethlisberger was growing frustrated with the second year receiver and that was incredibly apparent today.
Following Roethlisberger’s first interception today, Big Ben was clearly more upset than usual. We speculated during our SCB broadcast that Bryant might have run the wrong route leading to the pick. Roethlisberger had very strong words with Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley as he came off the field and that was for the most part, the last we saw of Bryant. To be fair, Bryant was battling an illness this week but if he suited up he must have been healthy enough to play.
Darrius Heyward-Bey saw the bulk of the action as the third wide receiver and the last we saw of Bryant was him getting his neck examined on the table along the sidelines.
Bryant’s talent athletically is off the charts but there’s a reason he didn’t appear until the seventh game last season and why he is struggling right now. If you don’t know what you’re doing on the football field then you don’t play and playing receiver is a position where mistakes are made for all to see.
It appears to me that Roethlisberger is fed up with poor communication and incorrect route-running from Bryant. While I like what DHB can do, I think I speak for all Steelers’ fans when I say it’d be nice if Bryant can back on the right track.
photo courtesy bleacherreport.com