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Running the Numbers: Missing Martellus Bennett

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Jonathan Bales

My latest submission to DallasCowboys.com is a piece on the importance of tight end Martellus Bennett. Although Bennett frustrated all of us and never developed as a receiver, he was dominant as a blocker. I’ve been saying for years that Bennett is better than Witten as a blocker. I even ranked Bennett as the fourth-best player on the team in 2010.

From the article:

I’ve tracked Cowboys plays for the past three years, and during that time Bennett played 1,496 snaps. You can see above that Bennett was a receiver on only 37.4% of those plays. On the other 62.6%, he was asked to either pave the way for running backs or keep Tony Romo on his feet. He performed both tasks at a near-elite level.

In pass protection, Bennett was actually superior to Jason Witten. Let me clarify that Witten is no slouch as a blocker; he’s one of the league’s best. Over the past three years, however, Bennett didn’t allow a single sack. Actually, he allowed Romo to get hit just a single time in 166 snaps of pass protection, and the quarterback was forced to move out of the pocket only five times because of pressure from the defender Bennett was blocking.

Witten, in comparison, has yielded four sacks on 242 snaps of pass protection since 2009. He has let Romo get hit three times and forced him to roll out on seven occasions. Those are really solid numbers; Witten allowed some sort of pressure on just 5.8% of snaps in pass protection. Bennett was even better at 3.6%.

Head over to the team site for more stats and analysis.

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11 Responses to Running the Numbers: Missing Martellus Bennett

  1. valmont says:

    Great receiving TE > 5*(great blocking TE)

    do you remember missing Dan Campbell? Neither do I.

  2. GOD I miss Dan Campbell!

  3. But seriously, I think a great blocking TE is valuable when he’s the second TE and fifth receiving option when on the field.

  4. john coleman says:

    I personally think Bennett will be missed more than most think. I hope I’m wrong on this one. Maybe the FA rookie from Penn St. will be a beast blocking. Or maybe Miami will cut Fasano loose and we can get him back. Cheap!

  5. john coleman says:

    Let me add, you really know how to open a can of worms. The idiots on the mothership are on it.

  6. hahaha…yes they are. I want to post some of the “best” comments, but I’m unfortunately deciding against it (for now).

  7. Greg says:

    Will it be indicting if Eli and Gilbride get 50 catches and 10 TDs out of Bennett? I think so. Eli knows how to throw the ball up to the tall player and Gilbride knows how to get the most out of lesser talent. Lastly, the simplicity of the Giants offense may very well free Bennett from the fatuous over-thinking of Garrett’s play book. Seeing Bennett on 3 yard screen passes is, yes, unexpected, but so would checking Ratliff on offense and sending him on a fly pattern.

    I think the maturity of Gilbride over Garrett is that he knows how to make the most of the talent and mismatches he can contrive. Garrett would just tell Ratliff was just not executing the fly route well enough to get open.

  8. SteveG says:

    Obviously, the Cowboys felt MB’s minus’s (Goofy attitude, poor preparation, not getting any better, etc) out-weighed his superior blocking. I have to agree. I’m not saying good blocking TE’s grow on trees, but I have to think a backup TE who’s a good blocker shouldn’t be THAT hard to find.

    I DO think in this next draft Dallas should really look in the 2nd-3rd round area for Witten’s eventual replacement.

  9. Steve–Agree with the TE draft assessment AND I agree Bennett didn’t improve as needed. He was a goofball, and it’s tough to tell how that affected his/others’ play. I think he worked a lot harder than people believe, but you’re right a poor attitude (if his wacky personality carried over to others) overrides good blocking.

  10. Tom says:

    I won’t miss Bennett’s attitude. He didn’t want to be in Dallas because he would never be #1 TE while Witten was playing. That was enough of an excuse for him to give just enough effort to get by, IMHO. Garrett knew full well what Bennett’s limits were, and that’s why he was never a real scoring threat in the redzone, as he should have been with his size and athleticism. Garrett had little to no trust in his ability to know what to do on every play.

    George Bryan has the potential to be a fantastic blocking TE who ultimately could match Bennett’s underachieving production as a receiver. The bar was not set very high in that area.

    I’m glad to see the team move on from Bennett, who will mainly be remembered as the guy Jerry didn’t trade to CIN for a 2nd rd draft pick.

  11. Yes, that 2nd would have been nice.

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