Martavis Bryant Handed Golden Opportunity Vs Ravens

While the Baltimore Ravens statistically have one of the top secondaries in the league, using just about any measure you want to come up with—yardage, touchdowns, interceptions, efficiency numbers—they are also about the embark on a new chapter in their unit, down their best cornerback, Jimmy Smith, whose season ended prematurely with a torn Achilles.

Starting in his place will be Marlon Humphrey, the Ravens’ rookie first-round draft pick, though it is possible that Maurice Canady could also see some action, particularly in the event that the former struggles. Humphrey should be playing on the defensive right side, across from where Antonio Brown primarily lines up.

But the Pittsburgh Steelers do, of course, mix and match where their wide receivers line up. Brown, for example, has lined up on the outside to the left 444 times this season, and to the right 277 times, so he still sees almost 40 percent of his snaps on the right side.

Martavis Bryant’s left/right splits are even closer together, and with JuJu Smith-Schuster missing tonight’s game, he should get plenty of playing time, and plenty of opportunities to play on both the left and the right side.

And I must say that I do find myself intrigued by the potential of getting Bryant against the rookie cornerback, who has been beaten over the top a few times, including in the team’s most recent game, and whose experience prior to Smith’s injury came inside.

I think it’s a safe bet that Bryant is a player who is determined to make an impact, even volunteering to return kicks as a way to get more touches during the game—a decision for the team that has so far seemed to be a positive development for both parties.

While the deep connection between himself and Ben Roethlisberger this year has been rather wanting—two of his five drops this season are on targets of 40 or more yards in the air—those connections have to come at some point.

The pairing only has one reception on passes thrown 20 or more yards in the air, that coming back in week two, but they have a number of connections from 15 to 19 yards in the air. In fact, Roethlisberger has completed six of seven passes in that range to Bryant for 112 yards and a touchdown.

However his opportunities come, and whoever they come against, however, Bryant knows that this is a golden opportunity for him with Smith-Schuster serving a one-game suspension, and likely his last best hope to make a big impact during the course of the 2017 season.

The third-year wide receiver has continued to make a couple of clutch catches per week since the bye, and has been a positive and meaningful contributor without the ball in his hands, but he wants to be the one in the end zone, and the Steelers would like to see him there more often as well.

About the Author

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

    good luck MB … smith out helps the fact we lost ryan … if mosley cant play that could make up for JU JU .. but my guess is mosley will play for sure .. he might only be 90% bu 90% of the guys playing arre only 90% this time of year.. HEATHHHHHHHHHHHH

  • Steve Johnson

    I’ve supported this guy since the draft, but #7 can’t throw the ball and catch it too. In the beginning of the season, Bryant and #7 wasn’t in sync at all. Big Ben over threw the ball a few times earlier in the season. But lately, the ball has been right there, only to go right through Bryant’s hands. M.Bryant has to do a better job of catching the ball in traffic, something A.B. and JuJu seems to do much better.

  • walter

    I hope MB can get his old speed back and get open. I cant help but feel he has slowed down a step.

  • dany

    I’ll be so happy for both of them when they connect on a long one. It’s coming

  • Michael Conrad

    I though he slowed down but he looks real fast on KO’s. I think CB’s play him looking for the deep ball. The time away has hurt his ball skills so we can only hope he is getting back to were he was.

  • Jaybird

    That pretty much sims it up. Got to get those contested balls.

  • ThePointe

    The thing with MB, is he doesn’t typically run full speed down the field until the ball is thrown, then he turns it on.

  • Junaid

    I think we found the answer at Kickoffs. MB can definitely burn it. Hopefully he stays with us.

  • Gizmosteel

    With DBs respecting MB’s speed so much I’d like to see him make some back shoulder and come back catches. As soon as those hips turn he should be looking for the ball.

  • Lambert58

    Hopefully Marlon Humphrey has a “Welcome to the NFL, Rookie.” moment today.

  • Jones

    Bryant had been inconsistent, but clutch this year. Let’s hope he’s consistent AND clutch tonight.

  • Jones

    agree, but MB has show some improvement in that area over the past game or two. Hoping for more tonight.

  • francesco

    Not sure which non catch you are referring to. But I saw AB miss a few catches last week as well.

  • pittfan

    NOW THAT WILCOX IS SITTING MARTAY WILL GET HIS KICKOFF TOUCHDOWN TO STICK!!

  • John Pennington

    Just hope Haley has him in the game plan.He cant help if the ball doesn’t come his way.Steelers need to use all the tools not just 1.

  • walter

    Something is not right. He cant get open. Its been a real disappointing season from him