When I attended Giants OTAs last week, a player that I couldn’t help but notice was Martellus Bennett:
Martellus Bennett is listed at 6’6, 270. We can see those numbers and know that he’s a big guy. But sometimes you don’t really grasp how enormous a player is until you see him in 3D. Bennett is one of those guys. I hadn’t really planned on paying too much attention to Marty, but I wound up watching him quite a bit. His athleticism is everything as advertised. It’s impressive how well he moves for a guy his size. However, (and I’ll say this bluntly)… His route running sucks. On 2 consecutive plays, I watched him run a little 10 yard stop. Both times, he got to his spot quickly, but executed a very lazy turn back to the QB. I could have flipped around more quickly. On that kind of route, when you hit your spot, you want to turn your body sharply back to the QB and give him a big target. Bennett’s turns were slow and lazy. In a weird way, I think this should be looked at as a positive. From what I saw, Bennett’s deficiencies are fixable. Last year, the Giants took a complete unknown in Jake Ballard and turned him into a guy that would contribute 604 receiving yards. In terms of pure talent, Ballard doesn’t touch Bennett with a 10 foot pole. It’ll be interesting to see what the Giants can do with him.
In college, Bennett’s numbers weren’t particularly impressive:
|Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M||Rec||Yards||TD|
The Cowboys, however, saw a massive tight end with really impressive athleticism and drafted him in the 2nd round with the thinking that they could mold him into a good receiver. That never came close to materializing in four seasons:
|Martellus Bennett, Dallas||Rec||Yards||TD|
I wanted to go back and look at the tape to see if what I saw in OTAs mirrored his game action, and really what I found is that he’s kind of a fascinating player. I chose the Week 16 Dallas-Philly matchup, since he was targeted 6 times in that game. There was one stretch in the 2nd quarter (three consecutive plays) where you can really see the good and bad of Martellus Bennett (You may need to use the full screen function):
Analysis after the jump…
- On the first play, Bennett is lined up left side, a yard off the line of scrimmage. His route is a little 7-8 yard stop, not unlike the ones I watched at Giants OTAs. The Eagles are in zone, and Bennett’s route goes right into the area of the field occupied by Brian Rolle. As noted above, Bennett is 6’6, 270. Rolle is 5’9, 229. This should be an easy win for Bennett, who should have little problem posting up the much smaller Rolle. Nope. Bennett runs in a straight line right into Rolle, never using his hands to fend off the much smaller defender, who easily gives Bennett a shot right into his shoulder pads, knocking Bennett off balance and making him useless in the pattern. This is a terrible route. However, once the QB has dumped the ball to the running back, it’s almost like a switch is flips in Bennett’s head, as he aggressively attacks Rolle as a blocker, driving him a good 8 yards down the field.
- On the next play, we see Bennett as a run blocker. He is lined up in line on the right side. Here, he takes on Jason Babin. First he steers Babin out wide, and once Bennett gets his hands on Babin, that’s pretty much it for him. Bennett looks to continue driving Babin through the whistle, loses his helmet, and then mixes it up a little with Jamar Chaney. Good block, good effort, well done.
- On the next play, we see Bennett out wide to the right. The play is designed to go left, and Bennett knows this, so he runs a very lazy 10 yard stop route. This is the kind of thing I saw at OTAs last week. That is not route running. It’s running through the motions.
Some players are great receivers, and give crappy effort in the blocking game. From what I see, Bennett is the reverse, which is rare. I think that sometimes human nature is to expend more effort at things in life that you’re good at, and maybe not try so hard in some areas of deficiency. You can probably apply that to any aspect of life, not just football. I wonder if that is what is going on here with Martellus Bennett? After 4 seasons of virtually no receiving production in Dallas’ offense, could it just be that he has no confidence in his game as a receiver, and is content to let that part of his game go unimproved? The raw ability is there. Dallas was never able to get him to harness that talent and translate it into a contributor in the passing game. It will be interesting to see if the Giants can.