PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I think the pregame shows for the Steelers and Patriots game have already started.
Good chance local news is doing live shots right now from outside Heinz Field.
And right now it is Monday afternoon. The game is on Sunday evening. Also, I’m just only half-kidding — I think some pregame shows for this matchup have already started. Seriously.
Why? Because there hasn’t been a regular-season matchup like this in some time. It is incredibly-anticipated and something many (Mike Tomlin included) have looked forward to for a while now.
There are a ton of storylines. How about this one: Martavis Bryant shouldn’t get a helmet for this game.
There, I said it. Yep, he hasn’t earned it. For a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that has pushed this team to an 11-2 record, there are very few things to complain about. Ben Roethlisberger has been spectacular over the last month, Le’Veon Bell has been tremendous and Antonio Brown continues to show everyone he’s the best receiver in the game. The offensive line, well, they have been really good and the Steelers even found a bit of tight end depth in the win against the Ravens.
All that said, finding a negative is tough to do, but the play of Bryant has — to me at least — been glaring. With JuJu Smith-Schuster coming back from his one-game suspension and Eli Rogers acquitting himself fairly well against Baltimore, where does Bryant fit in? Some will crush me for this but I’ll say it: I’d give Justin Hunter and Rogers a chance against the Patriots before Martavis Bryant.
When is the last time you have seen Martavis Bryant — as the Steelers are fighting to be the top team in the AFC — lower his shoulder after a catch and fight for an extra inch, let alone couple yards? I can’t remember.
Did you happen to witness his general malaise and uneasiness as a kickoff returner against the Ravens, seemingly struck by fear or indecision (or a bit of both) and unable to make the right assessment as the ball fell into his hands? I know I did and I have seen enough of Bryant on kickoff return.
When is the last time you have seen him fight through traffic and throw a block to spring a teammate or even stand up and Stalk Block a defensive back to help the Steelers’ running game and allow a running back to bounce outside? I’m still waiting for it this season.
How about that speed? Has it disappeared? I can’t find it.
I see a Steelers’ offense where everyone has bought in for the common good — except Bryant just seems to be going through the motions.
I have lived in this town my whole life. I suspect many of you who are reading this also have deep ties to Pittsburgh and know the history. That said, you certainly understand — cheating or not (and he is a world-class cheat) — that Tom Brady will bury your team if you make a mistake. He will capitalize on and exploit any little slip-up that you make and giving him extra chances is fatal to your plan.
We all know the Steelers’ defense isn’t good, so it is up to the Steelers’ offense to match New England’s scoring. At least that’s how I see this game playing out.
For me, Martavis Bryant is the guy most likely, because of what seems like a lack of being mentally locked in or just general disinterest, to make a disastrous mistake for the Steelers on Sunday and crush their chances against New England.
That’s why I’d be proactive with him. That’s why I wouldn’t even allow that chance. That’s why Bryant should be a healthy scratch against the Pats as it would fully eliminate any chance he would be the guy to mess things up.