During the offseason, many NFL analyst speculated that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Martavis Bryant had a great shot at becoming the league’s best deep ball pass catcher in 2015. Unfortunately, Bryant’s 2015 season didn’t begin until Week 6 as he was forced to miss the first four games due to a suspension and the team’s fifth game because of a minor injury.
In the four games that Bryant has played in so far this season, he’s managed to catch 16 passes for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, while Bryant has been targeted 12 times so far this season with passes that traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage, he’s only hauled in 3 of them and only 1 of those resulted in an explosive play of 20 yards or more.
In the Steelers upcoming Sunday game against the Cleveland Browns, they’ll face a defense that’s already given up 39 passing explosive plays of 20 yards or more this season. In fact, their 34.9 average yards allowed on those plays currently ranks them last in the league in that statistical category.
While the stats in the last paragraph might have Bryant excited to face the Browns on Sunday, it should be noted that the Cleveland defense has allowed a league-low 30.9% completion rate on passes thrown more than 15 yards down the field in their first 9 games.
If the Browns do have a week spot in their secondary when it comes to defending passes thrown more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage it’s on their left side, or the opposing offense’s right, as they’ve allowed 32.1% of the 28 deep passes thrown that direction to be completed. In case you’re curious, of Bryant’s 12 deep pass receptions that he has registered so far during his career they have been equally distributed to the right, middle and left sides of the field.
It’s worth reiterating that the Browns could be without the services of cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner for Sunday’s game against the Steelers as both players are still not being allowed to practice due to concussions they suffered a few weeks ago. Regardless of whether or not Haden plays Sunday, Bryant will likely be matched up against Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir during the game and those are matchups he’ll be expected to win several times with a few hopefully being of the deep variety and that’s even if backup Landry Jones has to make his second career start in place of injured starter Ben Roethlisberger.