Film Room: Martavis Bryant Bumbles Chance At Kick Returner

While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense was certainly ugly against the Baltimore Ravens this week, there may have been one area of the team that was even uglier, and that would be the kick return unit—more specifically, Martavis Bryant’s attempts at returning kicks.

In five opportunities, the best he was able to muster was a return out to the 20-yard line, with a long return of 21 yards. His performance was bad—just bad—and there is good reason that he is not being used there this week. Presumably for good.

The first kick came 20 minutes into the game. Fielded at about the three, his fatal mistake here was his hesitation. He stopped and surveyed his options for about a full second before slowly attempting to take a wide arc around the right end. Once he saw that cut off, he virtually froze and was had dead to rights at the 12-yard line.

The next kick wasn’t until the opening salvo of the second half, but all the rest of his returns came in the third quarter. On the first attempt, he fielded the ball from three yards deep and decided to take it out. While he was able to get out to the edge, he ran out of room at the 18, and instead of riding the play out to the sideline, he tried to cut inside the last defender.

Just five minutes later, he got another try, and it ended up being his worst of the game. Despite initially lining up short of the goal line, when the kick came to his left, he backed up and decided to play it on a bounce. He should have fielded it cleanly. Instead, he had to scramble just to avoid getting tackled in the end zone.

Return number four bore some similarities to the second return, working his way out to the right edge. Only this time he wasn’t able to beat the furthest defender. If he had, he might have had a bit of room to get out to about the 30 or so.

And lastly, Justin Tucker hung a kick up deliberately short to make him run up and field it. The plan worked because Bryant muffed the catch, forced to just fall on the ball at the 14-yard line.

To put it simply, Bryant managed to do several of the things that a returner cannot afford to do, and that is why he is no longer a returner. He got a legitimate opportunity to take over the job, and he well and truly blew it. He gave the coaching staff no reason to believe that he can be trusted, and there is no greater asset in a returner than trustworthiness.

About the Author

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

    That was painful to watch. .

  • Kevin artis

    we have better options.

  • JackHamLambert

    Wrong horse for the course. Tee is not a kick returner

  • Shannon Stephenson

    or a Pittsburgh Steeler after this year

  • PittShawnC

    “I offered you a chance when we could have done something, I offered you a chance …and you blew it! You blew it.”

    (bonus points if you know the movie)

  • Jollyrob68

    He’s afraid to get hit and sit’s down before contact.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Too bad after he returned one for a TD that was called back for a hold away from the play previous week.

  • francesco

    It was just one game! Why not blame the coaches for non existant blocking up front? When was the last time we took it to the house? Blame everything on MB and then wonder why he doesn’t want to play here? Go MB where your heart tells you. There is more to life than playing for the Steelers.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    You gotta hit the ground running in kick returns. You can’t stop. Hit a lane quick, if there’s nothing there, get as many as you can.

  • Jim Foles

    That was a great kick…. it died on the one and did not even try to roll forward.
    Blaming Bryant on that kick is stupid.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It wasn’t just one game. It was five kick returns in one game. That’s two to three games’ worth. And he’s been returning kicks for three games. The only time he looked even remotely skilled was when he had a clear hole to run through. But if you can’t even cleanly secure the football, you can’t be trusted. You seem to be a bigger fan of Martavis Bryant than of the Steelers.

  • francesco

    I’m a fan of any player who is being falsely and ridiculously mal treated.. This fan base is full of themselves when one mistake in life or a bad day at the office they seek blood.
    ABurns Mitchell and Dupree constantly have bad days and yet Tomlin still has them on the field. Explain that to me?

  • RJMcReady

    Up the field!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Most Definitely!

  • Steve

    Our Special Teams are lousy, we need a new ST coach. Off the head with Danny Smith.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t particularly care what fans write about. It doesn’t influence my evaluation of players, and what others say about Bryant shouldn’t color what you think of what somebody else thinks. The bottom line is that he failed to cleanly field 40% of the kicks that went his way on Sunday night, and that’s just not acceptable from anybody. When Jacoby Jones did that, they released him.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The return units are lousy. The coverage units and the kicker are good.

  • francesco

    All i can say is the day MB is released traded waived whatever that’s the day i stop being a Steeler’s fan.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Were you a Steelers fan before 2014?

  • Steve

    Actually both kickers are doing Great.

  • Steve

    Bye! No one player is above the team.

  • Quan Hurst

    He should stay back there with JuJu

  • pittfan

    I think his statement proves your assumption, si’?

  • pittfan

    Big. With Tom Hanks?

  • PittShawnC

    Moe Rubenstein (Robert DeNiro) to Freddie Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) in Copland

    Quote always pops in my head when I hear of a blown opportunity lol.

  • Chad Weiss

    Well you better enjoy it while you can cause it won’t be long. Bryant hasn’t even justified his number three wr spot as of thirteen games into the season. He has been a shell of himself pre drug suspension. I’m holding out hope it clicks soon but his play has been underwhelming imo

  • Matthew Marczi

    What am I assuming, exactly?