Announcers love to talk about breaking records, so at Thursday’s night’s football game they were rooting for Martellus Bennett to catch a touchdown pass – it would have given him a scoring reception for five NFL teams.
It didn’t happen, leaving us to wonder if it’s going to happen anytime this season. The fans are still awaiting the electric Rodgers-Bennett connection they drooled for all offseason.
Let’s look at the stats for Bennett with the Giants, Bears, Patriots, and Packers. Now 30, Martellus first spent four years as a backup with the Cowboys. Due to a rib injury, Marty played in only 11 games in 2015. I’ve included both Bennett’s current numbers, and his projected totals for the entire regular season.
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Bennett’s quarterbacks have included some of the best: Eli Manning (NYG), Jay Cutler (Bears), Tom Brady (NE), and now Aaron Rodgers – three out of four ain’t bad.
His stats show great productivity and consistency. The projected numbers for this season indicate he hasn’t been ignored. If anything he’s been overused by Rodgers. But his average yardage per catch is in the gutter, and his yardage on the year could be embarrassing.
His productivity, as measured by receiving yards per target, is currently at 5.0. This compares to Jared Cook’s 7.4 (2016), Richard Rodgers’ 6.0 (2015) and 7.5 (2014), Andrew Quarless’ 5.9 (2013), and Jermichael Finley’s 7.7 (2012). In his six years with Green Bay, Finley was targeted the most, 92 times, in 2011, and he had his highest catch total, 61, in 2012.
Conclusion: Bennett is getting plenty of looks, but he is not producing as he did with his three previous teams. In fact, he doesn’t even compare well with the numbers of his teammate, Richard Rodgers. The much-maligned Rodgers actually had 58 catches and eight touchdowns in 2015, his sophomore year.
What’s the Problem?
The Bears’ game illustrates the problem. Bennett’s line on Thursday was six catches on seven throws for 39 yards. His first catch was a beautiful 26-yard grab – but it succeeded due to Rodgers play-faking, rolling out, and surprising Chicago by going downfield on a 3rd-and-1.
For the rest of the game, Bennett had five catches, for 4, 2, 7, 0, and 0 yards. Since Rodgers was having success everywhere else — Nelson, Cobb, and Adams — he stopped targeting Bennett before the third quarter ended.
As some TP commenters have said, he looked slow and sluggish, he’s carrying excess weight around the waist, and there are rumors that he showed up for training camp badly out of shape. Is the 30-year-old resting on his laurels? With a three-year contract at $7 million per season, has he lost his incentive to perform?
And, yes, Jared Cook, who I wanted the Packers to originally sign to a multi-year deal, is having a better year in Oakland (through three games) than Bennett is having.
I’d like to know why Bennett spent most of the game lingering around the line of scrimmage. That sounds like questionable game planning, more than anything. Maybe Big Mike, not trusting his four-guard offensive line, decided to use Bennett as an escape valve when his blocking unit broke down – which it didn’t.
This isn’t what Green Bay expected, and Bennett has never before in a lengthy career looked so ordinary.
Whatever the reason, Bennett needs to be made more productive, and fast – like within days, when the Packers face Dallas and after that in Minnesota. Those are the kind of games he was brought in for.