Steelers vs Eagles Film Review: Martavis Bryant

Although the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t necessarily counting on rookie receiver Martavis Bryant to become an integral part of the offense in his first year, Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense would certainly like to see him force his way into the equation.

His performances thus far in the first three preseason games have produced mixed results, with some highs that showcase his raw potential, as well as some lows that forego the potential and just remind us that he is still raw.

The Steelers’ last game against the Philadelphia Eagles provided a bit more of both. While he didn’t make any egregious mistakes, he did have a few missed opportunities that show either a lack of understanding or a lack of awareness and effort.

On the plus side, he did return a punt 10 yards toward the end of the game that helped set up a touchdown drive, which he himself finished off. But on with the examples.

Early on in Bryant’s game time, the Steelers were facing a third and seven near midfield when Bruce Gradkowski looked in his direction deep, seeking the home run ball. While the pass was underthrown, causing Bryant to let up, he made little effort to work back to the ball while the safety closed in on him.

For a 6’4” wide receiver whose primary function outside of the red zone will be deep balls, you would like to at least see Bryant try to elevate on this pass, even if the throw wasn’t ideal. He made the effort in the last game, even if it didn’t pan out.

The next pass that went in his direction was probably the highlight of his young career thus far. He took a comeback route and spun off the reception, leaving the cornerback behind him, then proceeded to showcase his speed for a 25-yard gain, with about 18 yards coming after the catch. The safety only narrowly managed to lead him out of bounds.

A few plays later, the Steelers got a free play when an Eagles defender jumped offside. Gradkowski was hoping to connect with Bryant on another deep ball, but he got a case of the alligator arms and didn’t stretch out enough. This was a catchable ball, in my estimation, but it was on a free play anyway.

Late in the game, the Steelers found themselves with a first and goal opportunity from the three-yard line. Trailing 17 points with under three minutes remaining, they naturally kept the ball in the air by this point.

Gradkowski’s first target of choice, unsurprisingly, was the rookie Bryant, who at times seemed unbeatable in the red zone during training camp practices. The quarterback got off the jump ball, but Bryant couldn’t come down with it, despite elevating.

This case it wasn’t a case of alligator arms, but rather having flippers for hands. While the cornerback was well-positioned on the play, it doesn’t seem he was able to get a hand on it. There is some uncertainty, but in my view, this looks like a ball he should have had, and seems to be a case of lack of body control.

Two plays later, he did bring in the easy touchdown. The Steelers sent the tight end, aligned to Bryant’s inside, ahead into the end zone after giving a false step toward the middle of the field. This allowed Bryant to cross underneath and in front of his coverage, using his body to position himself for the reception.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • joed32

    On the 3rd one, if it was a catchable ball, he would have been out of bounds if he caught it.

  • treeher

    With experience, he will pull in some of these throws.

  • PA2AK

    Hard to fault him in #1…That ball was terrible, thankfully those DB’s didn’t get their heads turned around. I wonder how much time this kid has had with Ben throwing the ball.

  • Steelers12328882

    Ughh Gradkowski. Underthrew what could have been a touchdown, and then when he knows he has a free play he chucks it at the sideline instead of giving Bryant a jump ball.

  • joed32

    Agree, to come back to the ball he would have had to go through them with his momentum carrying him down field.

  • steeltown

    The only one im upset about was the jump ball in the endzone, he could’ve had that one and we’ll need him to make that play moving forward.

  • PA2AK

    Hopefully we don’t see much of him at all this season. Crazy when you look at how much worse Landry Jones looks than him, let alone the drop off from Ben.

  • steeltown

    The kid gets to full speed pretty quickly, im excited about his future.

  • Weiss Chad

    Agree.If this ball was thrown properly Bryant is still running.It was a real bad pass as Bryant was two feet in front of defender.For him to stop his momentum and jump for that ball is asking a lot.imo oppinion this kid is gonna be good.He is raw but when he gets it together I believe he can be special.Even though he has had a few hiccups I can see this kid being better than any wr on this team in future not named Antonio brown

  • dkoy85

    Overall, he is a raw rookie. With the jump ball in the endzone the defender did manage to get his hand on Bryant’s hand and forcefully knock the ball down, however Bryant definitely lacked body control to be able to fully go up and high point the ball. When the game slows down for him I think he’ll be a dangerous weapon. I’m very excited to see him play tonight.

  • Zivco

    Gif 1 is a bad under throw.

    Gif 3 the ball lands out of bounds…so does he if he lays out.

    Gif 4 the ball should be behind him.

    I think he has the team made…but I would like to see how he plays with an NFL capable QB.

  • SteelersDepot
  • cencalsteeler

    If you touch it, you should catch it.
    In Gif 4, he turned inside creating an opportunity for his opponent. If he turned outside, he should have boxed him out and had an easy TD.

  • cp72

    He does run by guys but his hands betray him. He’s a good prospect that needs the coaching staff to develop him.

  • PA2AK


  • joed32

    Pics too small to see the ball and doesn’t even show the sideline, look at the GIF.

  • SteelersDepot

    the ball is hitting his hands, plenty of room. It’s ok, to admit you are wrong.

  • SteelersDepot

    A few frames later after the clank.

  • SteelersDepot

    look at the gif? I make the

  • steeltown

    I gotta admit, he could’ve had that one

  • joed32

    No need to be a jerk, that last pic proves me wrong, the first one was unclear.

  • ApexSteel

    If there’s one player (other than Shazier) that I want to pan out from this year’s class it’s Martavis. So much potential, but he just needs to put it all together.

  • whisn

    gif one is tough, with a bit of experience, i think that was maybe catchable, definitely one you could see Fitz making a play on.

    gIf 3 he should have caught it, whether or not he’s have been in bounds whatever, its still the most easliy catchable ball of the three.

    The fade to the corner, was well contested by the cornerback, again a more experienced player may have come down with it.

    He is very raw, and that is what we are seeing.

    Looking forward to seeing him in extended action tonight.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Sorry, you’re actually wrong. AB would have made the adjustments on those plays. Grad has been putting the ball to where its catch-able.

  • falconsaftey43

    The ‘raw’ tag could explain poor route running, the knowledge to fight back to the ball, or how to box out a defender. What it doesn’t explain are the drops, which there are too many of, it’s fairly concerning for his long term potential.