Reporting Adam Hoge
By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) Martellus Bennett won’t shut up. He won’t stop trying to get better.
At one point during Sunday’s win over the Bengals, wide receiver Brandon Marshall had to tell him to just get back to the huddle.
“Right after the (30-yard catch down the sideline), Brandon came over,” Bennett said. “I was like, ‘Hey is there anything I could have did differently?’ And he said, ‘Bro, you always try to get better. That’s your job. Just come back to the huddle.’”
The Bears don’t want Bennett to shut up, though. In the meeting room, he’s constantly talking into quarterback Jay Cutler’s ear, looking for ways they can exploit the defense. And against the Bengals, that led to a first-quarter touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.
“Friday at practice, me and Jay talked about all the types of looks that we could get on that one route if we called it,” Bennett told CBSChicago.com Thursday. “And it came up in a game and he was on the same page as me. I just had to get in the position so he could throw a jump ball.”
Essentially, Bennett didn’t run the route that he was supposed to. But Cutler knew about it in advance. The two of them worked on it ahead of time, knowing that if the middle linebacker covered the route a certain way, Bennett would change his direction to make sure he was open.
“Just looking at film, (I told him), ‘Hey he might play it like this sometimes, so if he does this, I’m going to do this instead,’” Bennett said. “And (Cutler’s) just like, ‘OK, we’ll work on it.’ He trusts me enough to make the right decision.”
And the coaching staff trusts the two of them together. Head coach Marc Trestman told CBSChicago.com that Cutler and Bennett have the freedom to freelance in the red zone without clearing it with the coaching staff. Of course, that’s what all well-oiled offenses do when the quarterback and receivers are on the same page.
“(The Bengals) were in a shallow two coverage and (Bennett) just kind of worked himself open and Jay back-shouldered the throw. That’s really red zone football,” Trestman said Monday. “That’s a contested throw. It was well located by Jay where it really was going to be Martellus’ ball or nobody’s ball and then he hung on amidst an immediate collision, which is pretty normal. It was a backline throw in the red zone.”
But the genesis of the touchdown started in the film room with the two players involved, carried out onto the practice field Friday and resulted in a touchdown on Sunday.
“He’s a big guy and I think we get caught up in how well he blocks and forget what kind of target he is on the back end in the passing game,” Cutler said about his tight end. “We just have to balance him out and keep him happy on both fronts.”
And if there is any concern about Bennett, it’s keeping him happy throughout the season. But if the tight end keeps putting in the work he has and continues to be vocal with ideas in the meeting room, that shouldn’t be a problem.
“He’s very professional in meetings, he’s a diligent note taker,” Trestman said. “He’s a team guy, he’s the guy who’s always going, ‘it’s my fault’, or ‘nice play’, or ‘nice block’. He’s the first one to speak up. He’s the most vocal guy, but it’s not in a way that takes away from the flow of a meeting. He’s very business-like, and he’s a meticulous note taker, probably as much of a note taker as I’ve ever… he writes down everything.”
He also says anything. Monday, Bennett said that he needed his “prostate checked” after catching his touchdown. Thursday, he said that the age of NFL players should be counted in dog years instead of human years. And when asked if he was ever a part of J-Webb Nation, he said: “No, but I did eat his apple fritters.”
Considering the tight ends Cutler has had in recent years, the quarterback can certainly live with the ridiculousness of Bennett as long as the tight end stays on the same page and continues to get himself open.
If the early results are any indication, it won’t be a problem.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.