Rodgers, Bennett Connection Can Take Offense to New Heights

Trust. It's a fundamental quality that Aaron Rodgers has developed with a variety of targets during his nine seasons as the Packers' starting quarterback. Trust, cohesion, familiarity: All of which are what he's looking to find with his newest big-bodied target in the passing game.

Since coming to Green Bay in March, Martellus Bennett has been a walking circus for fans and the media alike—in the best way possible, of course.

He's gone from hosting Twitter polls and allowing fans to select his jersey number—leading to his landing of No. 80—to sleeping overnight in the locker room and conducting post-practice interviews while wearing a cheesehead. There's a new threat in town for opposing defensive coordinators to scheme for, and it's the 6'6" 275-pound Bennett.

As of Thursday, he officially has his first training camp practice with the Packers underway, and his new quarterback already loves him. If not for the presence he brings to the field, but to the locker room as well.

"The thing about Marty that we're learning and that I think you guys will all learn is that he's always prepared," Rodgers said after Thursday's practice. "He's ready to go if he's gotten three hours of sleep, up all night drawing pictures or watching Nickelodeon or if he's gotten a good seven or eight hours of sleep."

As far as Rodgers can recall, the Packers have been relatively short on eccentric personalities in the locker room over the years. Bennett has the ability to brighten a dull room and bring a spark of life to an offensive unit that got off to a rocky start a season ago.

"We haven't had too many dynamic personalities like that in my 13 years. I can think of a few; obviously Charles Woodson, Johnny Jolly was one. But, Marty's a great addition to the locker room and I'm glad he's a Packer."

The Packers have lacked a healthy, vertical weapon at tight end since Jermichael Finley's untimely departure from football in 2013. He helped Rodgers have one of the best quarterback seasons ever in 2011 by doing his part in an offense that seemed to never suffer a shortage at any skill position during the 15-1 campaign.

Finley had his best season that year, starting 13 games but playing in all 16 and recording a career-high 767 yards and eight touchdowns. No Packers tight end has come close to Finley's production that season, only Richard Rodgers in 2015 eclipsed 500 receiving yards ever since.

It's possible that the 2017 offense may just be the deepest group Rodgers has had since that superhuman year that culminated in a one-and-done defeat at the hands of the Giants in the playoffs. It's also possible that he can thank his general manager for acquiring Bennett via free agency.

Trying to replicate the efficiency from six years ago is the last thing on Rodgers' mind, but it's tough not to consider the endless possibilities.

"It's just finding that rhythm and consistency during the season," Rodgers said. "That year, we basically had it from start to finish. Last year, we had some struggles early in the season, offensively we were a little slow getting going and kind of hit our groove mid-season and finished strong."

From 2012 through 2014, the Packers began each season 1-2. They started a perfect 6-0 in 2015 and Rodgers threw 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions in those six games, however, the film would show you an offense that was struggling to move the ball and lacked a consistent deep threat sans Jordy Nelson, who was lost for the season after tearing his ACL in preseason action. 2016 saw the infamous 4-6 start to the Packers "running the table" and winning their final six games.

If Rodgers and co. come out swinging from week one against the Seahawks and on, they're going to be a dangerous team from September through December, which will presumably help them secure a first-round bye and a possible home playoff game for the first time since 2014.

"A lot of that has to do with finding the right personnel group we want to run and being able to find that consistency. Obviously, I have to play a little better early in the season.... We just have to get that going a little sooner."

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (2)

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Spock's picture

July 28, 2017 at 02:20 am

I'm really excited about what the two new tight ends bring to this offense. MM as a former tight end himself must be ecstatic with having not one, but two, excellent tight ends who can (gasp) block as well as run routes! That 15-1 season ending with the Giants loss in the playoffs was IMHO due to the double whammy of the death of a coach's son and (people seem to forget) and also the death of one of the OL men's (T.G. Lang?) father as well. The teammates went to TWO funerals that week and it was just a bad vibe. Happy thoughts for THIS season. I just have a feeling this offense is going to go through opposing defenses like a hot knife through soft butter! So glad we can finally talk about 'real' football now!

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LayingTheLawe's picture

July 28, 2017 at 06:59 pm

Mr. Spock beat me to it, but Bennett's blocking will also be a big deal for this offense. Also, the Packers coaches seem to best understand how to scheme inside routes and value the two tight end lineup greatly. Having two and even three effective tight ends that can rotate in will give the Packers a host of formation possibilities that look run heavy but can still be good passing formations for this group of tight ends.

The Packers offense last season definitely took off when Cook became part of it. We can hope that the three headed tight end monster of this season will be ready to roll right at game 1.

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