In the opener against Dallas, Martellus Bennett was targeted 6 times in the passing game. He made 4 catches for 40 yards and even made a play in the end zone in which he used his impressive size to shield the safety and haul in a TD pass late in the game. It was arguably the most productive game he has had in the passing game since he was a rookie with Dallas way back in 2008. From that perspective, it was an encouraging debut for Bennett as a Giant.
However, Bennett was not good as a blocker in the run game. The Giants ran to Bennett’s side of the formation 14 times last Wednesday. They gained 27 yards. When they didn’t run to Bennett’s side, they gained 55 yards on 5 rushes. That number is skewed a bit, as one run was a draw to Ahmad Bradshaw that went for 33 when the Cowboys were selling out to stop the pass late in the game, although the best run of the night, Bradshaw’s 10 yard TD run, came on a play in which the Giants ran away from Bennett.
I wanted to take a deeper look at the tape and chart Bennett on every play they ran to his side. It wasn’t pretty. When the Dallas defense wasn’t getting penetration on him, Bennett spent the entire evening “catching” blocks or just trying to get in their way, as opposed to looking to drive defenders off the ball. He was willing to stalemate with the defender at the line of scrimmage. There was almost no aggression.
Here is what I saw on each of the 14 times the Giants tried to run the ball to Bennett’s side of the formation:
|Yards||Bennett’s blocking activity|
|2||Anthony Spencer sets the edge, gets a yard into the backfield.|
|3||Bennett lined up as slot WR. Went immediately to second level, whiffed on Bruce Carter.|
|3||DeMarcus Ware easily sheds Bennett’s block, makes tackle.|
|2||DeMarcus Ware sheds Bennett block again with ease, makes tackle.|
|2||This was the play where David Wilson fumbled. Bennett attempts to block Jason Hatcher. Hatcher throws Bennett aside. Bennett falls and may have even held Hatcher. Hatcher gets first crack at recovering Wilson’s fumble.|
|3||Bennett lined up as slot WR. Anthony Spencer sets the edge on a Bennett block, and is in on the tackle.|
|5||Nice job blocking Spencer, nothing there, Bradshaw bounces it to other side of formation.|
|-2||1st and G from the 1. Kenyon Coleman gets 2 yards of penetration on Bennett, forces Bradshaw to continue to stretch his run to outside, runs out of room out of bounds for a loss of 2.|
|-1||2nd and G from the 3. DeMarcus Ware gets a yard of penetration, sets the edge on Bennett’s block, forces Bradshaw back inside, where the interior linemen clean up for loss of 1.|
|0||Tough to figure this play out. Spencer has the edge set on a Bennett block, and looks to me that he thinks Bradshaw has turned the play inside, so he follows the play that way. Bradshaw winds up trying to bounce it outside where Spencer formerly was, but he’s cleaned up by the D on the slow-developing play.|
|2||Bennett content to stalemate with Spencer.|
|5||Good block by Bennett. Doesn’t drive Spencer, but occupies him enough for Bradshaw to get around the edge.|
|0||Bennett engages with Coleman, Coleman holds his ground initially, gets a yard of push into backfield, clogs up left side, LB cleans up.|
|4||4th and 1 situation. Cowboys either expecting pass, or content to let the Giants run the ball and take more time off the clock. Hatcher shoots inside, and Bennett does a good job shuttling him further down the line, and Bradshaw slips right by for the first down.|
Anytime a reporter put a microphone in front of Martellus Bennett this preseason, he talked about developing rapport in the passing game with his new QB, Eli Manning. That’s fine and good, but the Giants brought Bennett in to utilize his excellent blocking ability from the TE spot to improve their woeful rushing attack of a year ago.
While Bennett certainly looks improved in the passing game after one game, he also looks nowhere near as effective in the run game as he was in Dallas.