Martellus Bennett: The inconvenient truth about Packers tight end

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 10: Martellus Bennett
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 10: Martellus Bennett /
GREEN BAY, WI – SEPTEMBER 28: Pernell McPhee
GREEN BAY, WI – SEPTEMBER 28: Pernell McPhee /

The offseason acquisition of Martellus Bennett was greeted with an outpouring of genuine enthusiasm on the part of fans, who viewed the popular tight end as a key component to a championship run, but the well-traveled veteran been anything but to this point.

Martellus Bennett was bought in to replace last year’s postseason hero, Jared Cook. The man known as Marty B. was hailed as a more complete tight end that was a superior blocker, as well as a reliable safety blanket in the passing game.

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In fact, while Cook is the more athletic weapon that can beat defenders with size and speed, Bennett has proven to be a more effective goal-line threat. Coming into the season, the first-year Packer checked in with 16 receptions inside the 10-yard line in his last four NFL campaigns.

Twelve of those 16 grabs, moreover, resulted in touchdowns, whereas Cook only had one reception in that area of the field in 2016.

Yet, after six games, the former New England Patriot has by-and-large been a non-factor that has only secured 40.9-percent of his targets along with four drops to boot.

Bennett’s last drop was one that won’t soon be forgotten given that it took place on the play where Aaron Rodgers suffered his broken clavicle last Sunday. Had No. 80 held on, the hook-up would have gained 25 yards.

And while the 6-foot-6, 275-pound San Diego native has been as solid as advertised as a pure blocker, his pass-catching woes have led to an abysmal 62nd ranking among his tight end peers by Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Needless to say, that’s not what the Packers had in mind when they inked Bennett to a 3-year, $21-million contract during the offseason.

Cook, by contrast, hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire, but has been considerably more productive as a member of the Oakland Raiders, as evidenced by his 63-percent catch rate and an 11.7 yards-per-reception total compared to Bennett’s 9.8.

In addition, the former first-round pick has gone over 40 yards in four of his seven games, including a 6-reception, 107-yard effort in Thursday night’s win over Kansas City.

Is this cause for Packer backers to harbor feelings of buyer’s remorse?

No…not yet, anyway. The season hasn’t even reached the halfway point and ample time remains for Bennett to right the ship.

This doesn’t mean that the outspoken 30-year-old has to match Cook’s 2016 exploits that saw him regularly beat safeties on deep seam routes. Bennett isn’t that type of player.

All Marty B. has to do is to use his large frame to shield smaller opponents over the middle and consistently come down with those short 5-10-yard tosses that can help the offense move the chains.

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The opportunities will continue to be there, as Green Bay’s depth at the receiver position should open up underneath patterns for the self-proclaimed “Black Unicorn”.

Off the field, Bennett remains of the more beloved personalities with a disarming sense of humor.

He’s an artist, social activist and overall provocateur, but right now the Packers need him to be a ball player—one they can rely on.

Let’s keep the eye on the prize, big guy.