Steelers rookie receiver Martavis Bryant wasted no time making an impact when he finally got a hat on Monday night against the Texans.
I said earlier this week that the Steelers tend to over-think decisions like whether or not to use Martavis Bryant. The kid is big and fast, let him run!
Ben Roethlisberger targeted Bryant down the field 3 times, and while only 1 of them resulted in a big play I was thoroughly impressed with the young receiver on all 3 passes. That’s not to say he’s ready to take Wheaton’s starting spot yet, but he could be a really valuable weapon.
The first target of Bryant’s NFL career was almost as impressive as his first catch, but his quarterback just overthrew him. Bryant comes out of his break and make a nice double move, and then turns on the jets to blow by the coverage.
You can see in the image above that Bryant has separation, and does a good job at looking over his shoulder to find the ball. Unfortunately he had no chance at making the catch. That being said, this is the type of play that can make a defensive coordinator think he better pay more attention to #10 and the deep part of the field. That will only make the run game and underneath game more effective.
Bryant just missed his first big NFL play, but he didn’t wait long for another shot. The one that everyone’s talking about this week.
That, Steelers fans, is as good of separation as you’ll see in the NFL without a broken play by the defense. Texans’ Andre Hall is TOAST on this play. Bryant does a great job again of looking back for the ball and catching it in stride.
He also does a great job of tapping his feet in the back of the endzone despite going full speed. He was running so fast that he actually ends up crashing into the wall behind the endzone.
The last play that Bryant impressed me on, and what separates him from a Mike Wallace type of receiver, happened late in the 3rd quarter when the team was backed up inside the 10 yard line.
On this play it appeared as if the Texans defensive backs learned their lesson, and gave Bryant some cushion. Martavis will see more and more of this, so he and Ben would be wise to work on some back shoulder throws underneath the coverage.
However, in this instance Ben still throws the pass long, and the defender has great position to make a play on the ball, and actually looks to have great position to pick off this pass.
Bryant, however, doesn’t make that possible. He probably gets away with a bit of a push off, and then goes full extension over the defender and nearly makes an amazing catch on a badly thrown ball.
That’s the sort of aggressiveness that Steeler nation wanted from Mike Wallace for years. That’s the kind of body control that could make Martavis a really dangerous receiver in the red-zone. That’s also the kind of play that makes your Quarterback want to come back to you more often.
I don’t want expectations to go sky high, because Bryant has a lot of work to do to be a complete receiver, but right now he could definitely fill the Nate Washington/early Mike Wallace type of role as field stretcher.
With Big Ben lobbying for years for a bigger target, I have a feeling he could be heavily targeted by his quarterback. Bryant and Brown could eventually make for a really dangerous tandem, reminiscent of Ben’s rookie season with Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward.