Film breakdown: The good and bad of Martellus Bennett

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
2005 18 162 3
2006 38 497 3
2007 49 587 4

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
2008 20 283 4
2009 15 159 0
2010 33 260 0
2011 17 144 0

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


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  7. joe d says:

    amazing how many ATHLETES there are but fewer guys who can actually play at a high level in the NFL… Even more amazing when you see guys who are less blessed athletically (FROM A HUGE HUGEEEEE relative point of view, if you’re in the NFL you have elite elite genetics), and are perennial pro bowlers…

    You just wonder what that “SOMETHING” is that makes one a great football player to just another athlete

  8. Rafael Vela says:

    Always wondered if Martellus needed to get glasses. Aside from TE screens he had trouble tracking the catching the ball on any passes 10 + yards downfield. He seems to fight it into his hands.

    The guy can block, though. Problem is, he’s a flake. It’s hard to back up Jason Witten, but he never pushed to get more playing time. Witten never had to sweat that Martellus was gaining on him.

  9. AustonianAggie says:

    Marty B wasn’t as bad in college as you may think. He was often the go to receiver for long stretches. Marty B had every chance to turn it around in Dallas. I don’t buy the “buried on the depth chart” story. I think he’s a distractable guy and blocking is something that he finds easy to focus on.

    His brother has turned in to quite the stud for the Tampa Bay Bucs, at DE. If you lived in Texas you would know that Marty B had his own TV show on Sports SW for when he announced his college choice. I think he has a whirlwind for a mind and finds focus difficult. He also will insinuate others are to blame for mistakes rather than scrambling for responsibility

  10. Trueblue63 says:

    Interesting. If he doesn’t tighten that up, he won’t get many balls from Eli. Eli and TC are pretty consistent. They won’t to know where you are going to be. Can’t throw to some soft fuzzy region. On the flip, with the TE being a low priority for the Giants offense, they usually draw a weak cover defender. If Bennett can improve somewhat he might be an acceptable fill in.

    Now I hope that we get a follow up on his progress later in training camp.

    1. Yeah, I tend to watch players a little more closely if I’ve taken the time to evaluate their game specifically.

  11. Seanrude says:

    You summed up Marty B’s career in Dallas. Great blocker, lousy route runner. Add in that his hands appear to be made of stone, and that he has the maturity of a 14 year old, and you have the Marty B Experience in full.

  12. DaCrock says:

    I think your clips of Martellus Bennett are reflective of what we’ve seen from him thus far throughout his career. I believe the Giants only gave him a 1-year deal for that reason. He may help a lot in their running game (which in and of itself could be a strong contribution), and they don’t particularly need much help from him in the passing game with all of their other weapons.

    If they truly believe the Robinson kid from Cincinnati can be “the JPP of TEs,” I suspect they’ll spend a lot more time on his development and “coaching him up” to become the total TE package rather than working to make Bennett a much stronger receiving TE. After this much time in the NFL, Bennett probably is what we thought he was–a fine blocking TE with poor receiving instincts. The G-men will hope for more from Marty B, but count on a lot less in the receiving department.

  13. Troy O says:

    It would be real nice if he can scratch the surface of what people think he can be. Blocking is definitely no problem for him. I will be more then happy if he improves the joke of a run game the Giants trotted on the field all of last yr.

    This is a contract yr being as he’s on a 1yr for 1.6 mill deal. (or something like that) Being the #1 could translate to big redzone #s.. But we shall see.

    1. yehti says:

      it was a contract year last year as well……amazing blocker a joke in the passing game

      1. Troy O says:

        Im aware of that. As a #1 (most likely) and the the best TE coach in the game may lead to greener pastures for the guy. In this contract yr.

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