The New England Patriots won't let their offense run stale. Just when you think you see what direction they're building, they switch it up to keep things fresh.
When the Patriots traded with the Chicago Bears for tight end Martellus Bennett, the immediate reaction was wonder. Were the Patriots simply looking for a backup tight end behind Rob Gronkowski, or were they looking to add another dimension to their offense?
The answer: yes.
There are plenty of reasons to bring in a tight end like Bennett, and also several repercussions.
In early March, the Patriots released tight end Scott Chandler—you remember, the big-bodied former Buffalo Bills tight end who was also expected to add a new dimension (or reintroduce an old dimension) to the Patriots offense in the form of the two-tight end attack. Bennett might be the tight end who can help them achieve that goal.
|Player||Martellus Bennett||Scott Chandler|
He has been a better receiving tight end than Chandler throughout his career, exhibiting more athleticism without giving up any of the size (Bennett is 6'6", 273 pounds; Chandler is 6'7", 260 pounds).
Chandler has been a respectable run-blocker, and he was graded out as a better run-blocker than Bennett overall in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus. That being said, Bennett was still among the best blocking tight ends in the league last year. Pair Bennett with Gronkowski, and you have not only found two skilled blockers, but also two receiving threats who deserve respect and attention.
How could you even defend that?
"I have no idea," Bills head coach Rex Ryan said, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. "I just think it's unusual to have two guys that are like 6-[foot]-7 and can run, catch, block. So, yeah, it's going to be a major challenge. There's no doubt about that. It's scary when you look at them. Those are two huge guys. How we're going to defend them, I don't know."
Robert Kraft on Martellus Bennett: "I know that Tom Brady’s very happy with that addition."— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 21, 2016
Two tight ends like Bennett and Gronkowski pose the potential to put linebackers and safeties in a bind.
They must show tremendous respect for the middle of the field in the passing game. That, in turn, would open up the boundary (now, if the Patriots could just find a boundary receiver to help them exploit those openings). Those same linebackers and safeties must also respect Bennett and Gronkowski's ability as blockers.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk recently reported that the Patriots have considered trading or releasing slot receiver Danny Amendola. If the Patriots were to truly gear themselves toward a two-tight end offense, their depth at wide receiver would be less important. In 2012, New England carried four tight ends and four wide receivers into the season coming out of training camp.
Pats offense with Gronk = dangerous.— NFL (@NFL) March 20, 2016
With Gronk + Martellus Bennett = lethal.
Oh, the options TB12 will have... https://t.co/B91jCNkdzb
Whatever the case, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is always adapting the offense to the best skill position players, whether that means three receivers and one tight end, as it has over the past few years, or two of each, as it meant from 2010-12.
So, in a best-case scenario, Bennett's arrival marks a revolution on offense, where the Patriots have finally found the perfect "TE2" to complement Gronkowski in their base offense. In a worst-case scenario, Bennett could be a backup to Gronkowski with the Patriots remaining in a three-receiver base offense.
Bennett has proven that he can be a valuable component to an offense, though, so he could make a quick impact catching passes from Tom Brady.