I’m usually pretty open-minded about Green Bay Packers opinions (especially from other writers). However, over the past few weeks I’ve heard a lot of teeth-gnashing about Martellus Bennett’s lack of productivity, including some words being thrown around like “bust” and “mediocre”. I think it’s time to put Cory in his Corner, and talk about Bennett’s real impact on the game.
In an ideal world, Martellus would be catching posts, end zone fades, and first downs on curls. However, on an offensive line that has been mangled by injuries, having the best blocking Tight End in the NFL working as an extension of your Tackles (or Guards playing Tackle) has saved Aaron Rodgers from serious danger. Bennett is being asked to be completely selfless, and give up glamourous pass catching opportunities to stay in and block, chip, or run short decoy routes. And he is doing it without a single complaint. He hasn’t launched any Gatorade coolers across the sideline or whined to the press about his role. He just does his job every snap.
Yes, the drops have been frustrating. But here’s a sample of a typical Bennett play on tape:
Martellus engages with the DE pushing them inside to prevent the Right Tackle from having to worry about the speed rush. He makes a quick scan for any LBs or Safeties blitzing off the edge. He runs a 3 yard route to the right of the line of scrimmage. He has to get his head around to be the dump off if Rodgers gets pressure from the left side or up the middle. If he gets the ball, it is coming in fast with almost no time to react. Now, Bennett has to try to make a move to create his own space (which has never been his strength).
Even with his “struggles” as a receiver, Bennett still draws a lot of attention. Watch how the defenders react to him cutting inside across the end zone, and you will understand how Packer Wide Receivers are getting so open on the outside.
Martellus Bennett has been far from mediocre. I would argue he’d be a top 10 NFL Tight End if he didn’t catch a pass the rest of the season. But he will. The numbers in the passing game will come as the Packers Offensive Line gets healthy. It takes some film study to understand the impact Bennett is having on the game, but rest assured, he is a major reason the Packers are 3-1.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig