Cory's Corner: Marty Bennett is just mediocre

Through four games, Bennett looks nothing his 2016 self. He has lacked explosion, has appeared sluggish and has displayed butterfingers with four drops.

Perhaps Aaron Rodgers was on to something when he campaigned for Jared Cook to remain a Packer.

We all know what happened next. Cook and general manager Ted Thompson couldn’t agree on a number and Cook ended up in Oakland.

But Thompson didn’t leave the cupboard bare. He went out and signed Martellus Bennett, who was coming off his second-best season of his career. He caught 75 percent of his targets from Tom Brady for 701 yards and seven touchdowns en route to his first Super Bowl ring.

But there’s one problem: through four games, Bennett looks nothing his 2016 self. He has lacked explosion, has appeared sluggish and has displayed butterfingers with four drops.

Bennett was brought to Green Bay because he’s a veteran that knows how to win and he is an excellent blocker. The blocking reason is interesting to me. How important is a blocking tight end on a pass-heavy team?

Through four games, Bennett is ranked 17th among all tight ends by averaging 35 yards a game. I really thought that Bennett would mimic Jermichal Finley’s dynamic ability and put the offense on another level. I was wrong. Bennett doesn’t look like Finley, he actually looks like Richard Rodgers.

Which begs the question, who exactly is Bennett? The 10-year pro has notched only four seasons with 55-plus receptions. Finley had three such seasons in just a six-year career.

The Packers need Bennett. Especially now with Davante Adams potentially missing time after a suffering a jarring reckless hit at the hands of Danny Trevathan. Bennett needs to eat up defenders and the middle of the field so that the edges are free for Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Adams and Geronimo Allison. (I would mention Jeff Janis, but I don’t expect him to see an offensive snap this year, barring a rash of injuries.)

I’ve always said that tight ends are the ultimate equalizer in this league. If you have an athletic, dynamic tight end, you have a distinct advantage and will see a mismatch on each and every play.

However, Bennett has turned into an albatross thus far. He is holding this offense back. And to prove it, Bennett really wanted to build a rapport with Rodgers in the summer. However, those two still aren’t on the same page because Bennett still doesn’t have a red zone target.

Do the Packers need Bennett to win another NFC North title? No. But they will need him to secure home field advantage in the NFC playoffs and punch the Packers’ tickets to the first Super Bowl since 2010.

With the amount of injuries this team has gone through, the Packers could use a dominating performance. Not just to reinforce that they weren’t wrong about the former Patriot, but to take some pressure off an offense that had to start a guard at tackle on Thursday because the starters and second-stringers are all hurt.

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (61)

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rdent's picture

September 30, 2017 at 06:24 am

I have to agree with this article. Bennett has looked anything but spectacular, slow, plodding and doesn't appear to to have his head in the game. It is beginning to look like GB may have been better off trying to re- sign Cook.

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KenEllis's picture

September 30, 2017 at 09:06 am

Bennett is so slow and unable to break a tackle that I have to do a double take when he is catching all those 0-2 yard passes in the flat to make sure it is number 80 and not 82, because he looks just like Richard Rodgers from 2015, just for $6,000,000 more per season.
Kendricks has been more impressive, and Bennet is a bust thus far, at least on the field.
Off the field, as the leader of the anthem protest movement in Green Bay, Martellus certainly has made his presence known.
Maybe it is this bigger impact off the field than on that has led to his previous departures from the Cowboys, Giants, Bears, and Patriots.

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packrulz's picture

September 30, 2017 at 06:29 am

Jared Cook has 124 yards and 1 TD, and the Packers offensive line has been banged up, I think it's premature to criticize Bennett. I still think he will do better than Cook.

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Horse's picture

September 30, 2017 at 06:39 am

"How important is a blocking tight end on a pass-heavy team"? I saw no good reason to read past this.

Everyone paying attention could have added "with a different O line every game & the most valuable QB in the league."

Tune in next week for the latest episode of Cory's Petulant Vendettas.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:42 am

The inept offensive line play is a good argument. However, that doesn't negate his lack of speed or explosion. Even when the offensive line returns to full health, Bennett will still struggle to make a big impact.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

September 30, 2017 at 09:11 am

the drops, too

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Johnblood27's picture

September 30, 2017 at 11:30 am

Thats not horse-sense

Thats horse-s*it

Bennet has been horrible.

Watch the tape, he has missed far more blocks than he has made, he has dropped more balls than he has cought for an impact. He has committed penalties (with one admittedly very poor call against him). He has knocked teammates off blocks destroying plays. He has facilitated distraction from football goals in the locker room and on the field.

He, more than anyone else on the Packers, needs to refocused and step up his game both physically performance wise as well as mentally with TEAM GOALS being first in mind. Injuries are valid reasons for not performing, Bennett has no valid excuses.

STEP UP or STEP OUT.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 30, 2017 at 07:09 am

Seriously Cory. Have you seen the wreck of the Packers O line. What Packers football games are you watching. Bears game is the first where Bennett has been releasing clean from the line. All others he has stayed in max protect or chipped and leaked out. I shudder to think where Rodgers would be if Bennett had not been part of the pass protection package.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 30, 2017 at 11:34 am

After 3 games, Cook had 6 receptions on 11 targets for 53 yards (8.83 ave. and just 17 yards per game). Cook got hurt and missed 6 games, then came back with games of 105 yds, 7, 19, 15, before finishing strong.

I still think the key to an incredible offense lies with Bennett and Monty.

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tm_inter's picture

September 30, 2017 at 05:21 pm

Bennett has become an important part of the Packers' tackle-less OL. He's had to focus his plays on protecting Aaron Rodgers. There's more urgent matters than nitpicking on Bennett right now.

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Nick Perry's picture

September 30, 2017 at 07:29 am

We're at the quarter point of the season watching an offense that almost always takes awhile to get going at the start of each season. This seasons injuries are worse IMO than any other season under McCarthy. Now if the Packers starting tackles had played a combined 8 games opposed to the actual 1 1/2 games they've actually managed to play in, then Bennett's production thus far might be a bigger issue in my mind than it is now. Mind you the 1 1/2 games Bulaga and Bahktiari have managed to appear in haven't even been in the same game.

Lets get our starting tackles healthy and playing TOGETHER for at least a few games before we call out Bennett. I'll admit, I was hoping for more but I'm certainly not regretting not signing Cook, not yet anyways.

BTW... Kendricks looked good on that 51 yard reception, the TD catch, and he drew a PI flag that resulted in points too. Lets get back out Tackles, give em a few games together, and see where they're at after 8 weeks. My guess is we'll be pretty happy.

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mattnphx's picture

September 30, 2017 at 07:35 am

Wow- excellent points regarding the Tackles not being able to play! Bennett has stuck around in the back field helping out even more to chip/block instead of going out on a route. Bennett is a gamer! (Can you imagine Cook grinding out blocks? I can't)

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Tundraboy's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:34 am

You tell them NP!

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Nick Perry's picture

September 30, 2017 at 09:16 am

Hey TB..Hope things are good with you.

Hey we're 3-1 and have been a "Mash Unit" while doing it. When a team is missing 6, 7, and 8 starters at the start or during the course of a game and still wins it gives me reasons for optimism.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 01, 2017 at 11:03 am

Thanks NP. Doing well. Likewise for you..

Lots to be optimistic despite the feeling last game, that we lose someone every 5 minutes. To be 3-1,and having beaten the Seahawks and Bears is not so bad. To do so with no O line, coming back against the Bengals are signs that in some ways our luck has changed from recent years.

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Nick Perry's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:35 am

LOL.....I actually had a good laugh at the thought of Cook "Grinding out Blocks".

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Somedumbname's picture

September 30, 2017 at 02:51 pm

I agree with every word NP. Also, Marty's blocking helps a poor run blocking o-line. I think that is under valued in this article.

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tm_inter's picture

September 30, 2017 at 05:25 pm

"Lets get our starting tackles healthy and playing TOGETHER for at least a few games before we call out Bennett."

Right on, NP!

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mattnphx's picture

September 30, 2017 at 07:30 am

Actually, Bennett was targeted in the Red Zone Thursday night. And he had a better game on Thursday. Hopefully the Bears game is a step in the right direction. Bennett is slower than I thought he was. However, He's HUGE and I think he is helping and will help even more. He is a MUCH BETTER blocker than Cook. Bennett is also healthy. Cook was not available to play for 6-plus games last year. Their stats so far are very comparable this year. However, Bennett is a FORCE as a blocker! Cook, not so much, actually Cook was never a force blocking. I'll take Bennett. Thank you. Keep up the fight!

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Savage57's picture

September 30, 2017 at 07:48 am

Packers fans will keep on hoping.

I miss the dynamic AR and Cook had. Not seeing anything from Bennett that would indicate that's in his future.

Like Bubba Franks in terms of his skill set and athleticism, but I'm most frustrated by the Finleyesque tendency to go down in a pile if a defender swipes a hand across his ankle. For a man of his size, he sure goes down easy.

Fans coronate someone new as the answer prematurely, then spend the season defending their play, crappy though it may be, because not doing so would indict an incorrect prediction.

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CAG123's picture

September 30, 2017 at 07:53 am

He's pretty much throwing chips every single play and he's gotten some very Richard Rodgers type throws (2 yard catches) when this line is completely healthy then make your judgments because I can't complain about a guy that's helping keep 12 upright besides it's not like Cook is lighting it up in Oakland.

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dobber's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:04 am

Sure, he's quite an athlete for a man his size, but Bennett has never been a field-stretcher. His combine 40 time was run when he was in the 250s. Now he's in the 270s and has some wear on his tires. He's had a few long receptions over his career, but mostly he's a chain-mover. I was more excited about Kendricks and his big-play potential when he was signed.

What I liked about Bennett when he was signed was the fact that he gave the Packers a competent receiving option out of just about any receiver position AND had a reputation for being an outstanding blocker. I thought that would help the Packers to be more flexible in their play calls at the line when they read what a defense was showing.

The last several years, the Packers haven't really featured the TE...not even Cook. Even when RRod caught 58 passes I don't think anyone thought he was being featured.

I'm concerned that Bennett has got his ring and is not as focused as he could be. He hasn't shown himself to be much more than an average TE, so far. My hope is that he pulls it together as the season goes on, but what can we realistically expect?

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MarkinMadison's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:26 am

Agree about Kendricks. Any long-developing route is going to require better play at the T positions. Kendricks is going to shine when Bakh and Bulaga are back.

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mrtundra's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:28 am

I think RR has as good of hands as anyone on the team. He just isn't very fast and as you said, has some trouble blocking for ARod. I don't think Kendricks is very fast, either, but he knows how to get open. Bennett will be fine once he doesn't have to spend most of his time in pass protection.

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Somedumbname's picture

September 30, 2017 at 02:36 pm

Kendricks runs a 4.57 40. That is fast.

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dobber's picture

September 30, 2017 at 04:21 pm

Kendricks, at least at the combine, has almost identical numbers to Jordan Reed, who has been a very good TE/HBack for the Redskins (when healthy). That's what I had visions of for Kendricks with ARod throwing to him.

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mrtundra's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:23 am

So far, this season, Bennett has matched Jordy Nelson in receptions. Sure, Jordy's have been mostly down field while Bennett gets a lot of the underneath stuff, but I don't hear anyone calling out Jordy for his play. Jordy has also dropped some passes that hit him in the hands. Bennett is used in blocking schemes as a TE, as well, which doesn't allow him to be used downfield as much. You'll see Bennett used more downfield when we get our starting tackles back or when our four guards and one center version of an O line can gel a bit.

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Since'61's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:30 am

Cory - I think that it is premature to evaluate Bennett's performance after only 4 games with the Packers and while playing with an offensive unit that is working through numerous injuries. Bennett has been very effective in his role as a blocker and supporting the carousel of OTs we have had so far. I don't like the drops and agree that he needs better concentration. My guess is that he is having his own SB hangover but that he will improve.

Given the patchwork OL the Packers have played with thus far I think that it is difficult to judge the play of the entire offense up to this point. Our run game may be much more effective when our starting OTs return. That alone would open up more opportunities for Bennett, thus making him more effective. We need some patience until we see our healthy offense back on the field. With the injuries to Monty and Adams we may not have a healthy O until after our bye week.

One play, one game at a time. Thanks, Since '61

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

September 30, 2017 at 11:48 am

Since '61, I have to agree with you. I've been one to Criticize Bennett's play, mostly because I really liked Jarrod Cook. Bennett is a Big Guy & a different type of Tight End. We've really needed his blocking ability. He's had a lot on his plate with all our OL injuries. He's dropped a few passes that I don't think he would normally drop. Like you, I now think he deserves more time. When he gets it all together, he should really be a force for GB. For the most part, GB has used the TE for pass receptions, out of necessity more than anything else. Let's hope we can get the whole team healthy for a change.
LVT

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Chris Scoggins's picture

September 30, 2017 at 08:33 am

"How important is a blocking tight end on a pass-heavy team?"
The Packers started 4 guards and a center on Thursday.

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dobber's picture

September 30, 2017 at 04:22 pm

You win the thread!

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Tundraboy's picture

October 01, 2017 at 11:05 am

Agree!

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BPEARSON21's picture

September 30, 2017 at 09:18 am

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lou's picture

September 30, 2017 at 09:34 am

All points made are valid both pro & con on Bennett's play "to date". The positive going forward is Bennett has been over the years as complete a tight end as there is in the NFL. The big name TE's outside of Olsen (never to this day figure out how the Bears let him go) get press and Pro Bowl invites just on catching the ball. What has drawn negative attention so far with Bennett is that the first impression many Packer fans have is he is heavy and slow compared to Richard Rodgers who was considered the same but now looks more in shape and faster than he did before probably because he knew his job was on the line this season. It's too early to write Bennett off.

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Gforcetrivers's picture

September 30, 2017 at 10:30 am

I'll give him a few more games but 4 games in he stinks. I was very excited and I mean very excited when they signed him. I hope he turns it around soon. Maybe he's turned into a paycheck player? Besides that he was a sitter, I don't care what happened to his brother.

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Qoojo's picture

September 30, 2017 at 10:31 am

If he doesn't have those drive killing drops, then this article doesn't exist, or it's about how he can't stretch the field. Might not have targets, but you know teams have to account for him in the red zone because he is huge.

Green bay is at 78.57% Red Zone scoring percentage (TD only) this year. 2016 - 64.47% and 2015 - 55%.

2015 - no TEs to speak of
2016 - Cook as TE for most of the season
2017 - Kendricks and Bennett

Also, they don't have much of an oline this year due to injuries. Yet, that scoring percentage looks really good.

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dobber's picture

September 30, 2017 at 04:28 pm

2015--No Jordy Nelson to speak of.

...RRod caught 8TDs that season.

In the end, #87 is who teams are looking to defend in the red zone. But that's why Bennett should be making hay down there.

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Qoojo's picture

September 30, 2017 at 05:50 pm

I am not saying it's all due to the new TEs. Healthy Jordy is a part of it too as you can see from that quick out. But if you look at 2 of the TDs scored by Jordy against chicago, the first was because the guy couldn't get around Bennett. I would call it a pick play, but it wasn't that close. The second, Bennett did a short crossing route (2-3 yds) and drew double coverage, and jordy was left all alone. The last was probably more to due to confusion on defense no doubt. The first two passing TDs were basic pick plays by adams and cobb.

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Akbart's picture

September 30, 2017 at 10:40 am

Crazy talk, Bennett is great and he's going to be huge by the end of the season. No He's not the speedy down field type but he can actually block. Maybe Cory is just trying to make trouble.

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Regular Ol Plumbus's picture

September 30, 2017 at 10:51 am

I think this blog comes from the fallacy of setting expectations way too high. I heard all off-season we got better at tight-end. For some people, I think that meant, "Remember all those glorious catches Cook made in December-January? ... Yeah, we just got better than that." The reality is that Marty is a different kind of pass-catching tight-end, and it's still technically only September.

Marty isn't going to cut, juke, or spin. He's too big and tall for that. That's Cook's game, not Marty's. He'll get down field, box his guy out, and make possession catches--so Rodgers better be targeting him for the sticks. He might truck one or 2 guys, or he might be able to fall forward for 2-3 yards (his height), but he's not going to break a tackle and take it to the house. Where he lacks in that evasiveness in YAC, he makes up for in blocking on the line (destroyed a pass rusher in the Falcons game if I recall).

As far as where Marty and Cook stand at this point in the season, Cook through 3 games last season (before he got hurt) had 6 catches on 11 targets for 53 yards and no TDs. Through 3 games this year, Marty has 11 catches on 21 targets for 102 yards and no TDs. (PS, Marty definitely had a redzone target against the Bears on Thursday. It sailed a little too high). No doubt, he had a case of the dropsies--I personally don't expect that to continue. He just had his best game to shake that off.

Final point, this Packers offense is LOADED with pass catchers. As long as we're putting up points, every single player on that 11-player unit is contributing, even if it's eating up defenders. If Marty doesn't catch another pass the rest of the season, but Jordy, Cobb, Adams (fingers crossed), Allison etc. combine for 4,000 plus yards and average 30+ points the rest of the season, I consider the Marty project a huge success.

But that's extreme, I'm going to give him time. He's going to have a 3 TD game here soon, me thinks.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 30, 2017 at 11:49 am

Cook took a long time to get going as well.

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dobber's picture

September 30, 2017 at 04:25 pm

Cook had that foot injury that cost him most of camp, and then a high ankle sprain (I think) that cost him 6 weeks.

It's hard to deny, though, that the Packers offense played well down the stretch and it seemed to coincide with his return.

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Bear's picture

September 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Cory, I hardly call Finley's career average of 39.8 yards a game dynamic!

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Point-Packer's picture

September 30, 2017 at 12:25 pm

All the homer gloating about the "coo" that TT pulled in signing Bennett was a load of shit. Should have resigned Cook. Simply put. Another dumb Ted move that the blind homers were creaming their pants over.

Right Oppy?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 01, 2017 at 01:34 am

coup

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lou's picture

September 30, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Lots of solid points both pro & con on Bennet's play "to date". The positive going forward is his history of being one of the top all around tight ends in the NFL. Most of the TE's get all the press and Pro Bowl invites just as receivers, but Bennet and Olsen (still cannot believe the Bears let him go) for overall play are near the top. Most Packer fans early impression is that Bennett is heavy and slow, as was the case with their view of Richard Rodgers the last 2 seasons. Now, because Rodgers job was on the line this year he looks slimmer and faster than in the past (give him credit for that) and fans take that into consideration comparing the two. It is way too early to write Bennett off, based on Cook's early results many did the same last year and have egg on their faces this year.

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Rossonero's picture

September 30, 2017 at 02:37 pm

Bennett and Cook are two different types of TEs.

Cook has far superior speed and is more similar to Jermichael Finley, in that he is an over the middle threat. However, his run blocking was below average.

Bennett is not a speedster and never has been. He's not an over the middle threat, but his run blocking is definitely better than Cook's.

I haven't been very impressed with Cook thus far either, but let's remember there's a lot of mouths to feed in this offense. At the very least, defenses have to account for him. It's too early to call him a bust though. If he can have 90 catches in 2014 with Jay Cutler, he can at least have 60 catches with Rodgers.

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al bundy's picture

September 30, 2017 at 05:25 pm

He was last year. Way heaveir out of shape this year

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dobber's picture

October 01, 2017 at 11:21 am

I disagree. He doesn't look much different from last year in that regard.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 30, 2017 at 03:25 pm

Point Packers noticed something I always laugh on. When some players were coming to Green Bay you all salivated on what you are imagining that player would do.

When that does not happen, here is article title: "Player XY is bust!"

I do not know how many of you, including Cory, knows what was the assignments Marty Bennett had for every single snap. Of course, you do not know. But you know he is bust.

Is it so strange that Marty Bennett dropped several passes thrown to him. Mostly, those throws were not easy to catch.

But, as far as I remember, we started to notice Jarred Cook in post season. Before that he had more than few drops. And I remember how many here were questioning Cook's quality...

Jarred Cook just needed some time to play with Aaron, as Marty Bennett need.

I remember Marty Bennett's answer on question regarding difference between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. He told that Tom Brady told you where he expect you to be. Aaron, on contrary, wants to know how his receiver sees the field in different situations. It is much harder to establish that kind of connection than the first, with Tom Brady. But, when that connection come to life, it is special - Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Geronimo Alison and - more than anyone else - Jordy Nelson...

From patience comes perfection!

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protasio's picture

September 30, 2017 at 04:22 pm

Nice comment, Croat.

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protasio's picture

September 30, 2017 at 04:24 pm

Double

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 01, 2017 at 01:49 am

I think everything you wrote is very true, Croat. I think it means that it takes longer for receivers to gel with AR. The downside is that it makes it more difficult to obtain an impact rookie wide receiver, and raw receivers are going to take more time to develop than they might otherwise take.

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al bundy's picture

September 30, 2017 at 05:23 pm

The guy is collecting a paycheck. He is doing a lot of sanding around. looks 50 lbs heavier then last year. Got his ring could care less

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tincada's picture

September 30, 2017 at 06:08 pm

Crafty ol' BB let him go for a reason. The Pats are very good at picking players as who to keep and who to cut. Just saying...

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dobber's picture

October 01, 2017 at 11:20 am

There are a lot of former Pats around the league. Some are still good players, but BB knows how to build his roster and manage his cap.

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ArlenWilliams's picture

October 01, 2017 at 01:38 am

I'd like to see Mike M. spread it around. More Kendrics and R. Rogers. Give Davante Mays (whom I'd guess would provide the best immediate impact and may have the brightest future of the three rookie RB's) a chance. McCarthy loves the inside run and Mays has the weight, quickness, and low center of gravity for it.

Shucks, maybe they should try Kyler Fackrell out at tight end. He's got size and pretty good speed. Seems like a natural north-south runner from his good special teams play.

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rajahking's picture

October 01, 2017 at 09:29 am

Bennett has been fine. Sounds more like the author is upset that Bennett speaks his mind and is opinionated about topics other than football...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 02, 2017 at 02:50 am

This is utter nonsense, Rajahking. The author doesn't mention or even allude to Bennett's opinions or off the field activities in this article. You completely made that up. You ascribe motives (and nasty ones at that) to the author without any apparent evidence.

I am still on the Bennett bandwagon: I think he and Monty will take an already good AR-led offense to another level. As the 8th highest paid Packer by AAV, there can be little doubt in any objective person's mind that Bennett has been underwhelming so far. I think the absence of the tackles and having to chip all the time explain a fair amount of that.

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lozmel's picture

October 01, 2017 at 09:56 am

I noticed Bennett had quite a gut on him. Ever since they changed the otas there has been more injuries Most guys are not used to getting hit by being in football shape.

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Cartwright's picture

October 01, 2017 at 10:56 pm

The article was a bit premature. With an O line that has been injured, still early in the season, and especially a 3 and 1 record can't the criticism wait. Rather have read an article about the good play of Hawkins at cornerback or the good move Ted made drafting 3 rb's now that 2 went down, but maybe those are coming.

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