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Breaking down Bennett, part 2: Negatives in run-blocking

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Part 2 of 4 takes a more critical look at Martellus Bennet’s run blocking skills.

Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In this four-part series, I will be analyzing the Green Bay Packers’ biggest free agent addition of the 2016-17 offseason, Martellus Bennett, using film from his previous season with the New England Patriots. Today’s focus: the negatives of Bennett’s run blocking abilities.

Yesterday we discussed the pros of Martellus Bennett’s skillset as a run blocker. Today, we will counter that discussion with a few words on his less-than-stellar traits as a run blocker. Let’s cut to the chase.

Disengagement

Nobody is on their game 100% of the time, right? Well, besides that jerk in the office Dave, who is always too happy on a Monday morning, is there both before and after you, and never seems to blink for some reason. Screw Dave. Sometimes we need a little time off, a 5-minute break to get our mind right. None of us, though, play professional football, where participants are asked to stop human missiles from demolishing another person carrying an oblong piece of leather.

Martellus Bennett is in fact a professional football player, and a very good one at that. He is often tasked with stopping those human missiles and typically does a very good job at doing so. Occasionally, Martellus Bennett takes a bit of a break. Typically that would be OK! Like I said, people need breaks, as people do in fact get tired from physical exertion. Unfortunately, those breaks can sometimes happen while Bennett’s still on the field of play. Top of the screen in the below clip.

Maybe he thought he could scare the defender and that would be enough? Perhaps his tactic was to get close enough to whisper a previously unheard conspiracy theory about the Illuminati that actually makes a lot of sense, but never lay his hands on anybody? Psychological damage rather than physical - that’s a veteran move.

I could show more clips here, but the results are the same. On runs where Bennett is the backside blocker, little effort is made, and life goes on. It happened more frequently than I’d like to admit, and for the interested, here’s a few more examples. There was even an instance of Bennett (top of screen on LOS) getting trounced on the playside.

Except for the play above, the lack of effort didn’t really directly affect the run plays. Still, it was a bit of a concerning trend that will hopefully be offset by the other positives of his play as a blocker.

Poor Form

For as much as I praised Bennett’s sound technique yesterday, there were the occasional lapses. Having such a tall frame means that his base can be too high, which limits his strength. Defenders can set their feet and plow into his chest, knocking Bennett backwards and into the running lane.

In the next clip, Bennett (top of screen) isn’t able to control the block and drive forward even though he has the size advantage. The linebacker sees Bennett’s block coming, bends low, and hits Bennett in his chest knocking him backwards before Bennett himself can prepare for the block. It’s as if he wasn’t ready or couldn’t conceive that someone would try to take him on physically.

Well, on occasion, Bennett’s physicality can be matched. Had Bennett chopped his feet and set his base lower, he would have been better able to absorb the blow from the defender, but his poor form didn’t allow that to happen.

He’s just not an offensive lineman

Stating the obvious, I know. People seem to exaggerate, however, Bennett’s overall blocking ability. He’s very good - but he still can’t match up 1 on 1 with an edge player in pass protection. More often than not, he will get beat. And that’s perfectly acceptable, because a smart offensive playcall will not have Bennett go against an edge player 1 on 1. Consider the next clip to be your casual reminder that Bennett plays tight end, not right tackle. And ignore the fact that I’m shoe-horning a pass protection clip into an article about run blocking.


If Martellus Bennett stays engaged and focused, he can be a very good run blocker. He has the tools and form to handle just about any linebacker and most defensive ends, bu the coaching staff will have to make sure that he stays engaged and committed to the block when he’s called upon to do so.

Part 3 is coming tomorrow!