Martellus Bennett has become a pretty good tight end for the Chicago Bears, and the last couple of seasons have seen him become an important part of their offense. This season has brought forth some doubt whether Bennett will remain in Chicago, and he is currently being outplayed by the Bears backup tight end, Zach Miller.
This might surprise NFL fans because quarterback Jay Cutler is having one of his better season in recent memory and he has 2,510 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and only six interceptions. While Bennett leads the Bears with 50 receptions this season, he is only averaging 8.5 yards per catch, which is his lowest since 2011 when he played for the Cowboys. Last season, Bennett had 90 receptions for 916 receiving yards and six touchdowns, but he likely won’t reach any of those totals with the pace that he is on in 2015.
A big reason why Bennett might not be used as much this season is because the rushing attack is already on pace to break its output of the 2014 season. Last season, the Bears rushed the ball 355 times for 1,441 yards while this season they already have 316 carries for 1,210 rushing yards. The offense has also relied more on rushing touchdowns in 2015; tallying nine touchdowns to the eight touchdowns that they had all of last season.
It is also possible that the loss of wide receiver Brandon Marshall in the offseason has hurt Bennett’s production, as more defenses key in on Bennett instead of Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and Jeffery has only played in six games this season. Opposing defenses only have to worry about Jeffery and Bennett now, and that is not helping the situation any in Chicago.
Another key reason that Bennett has seen a decrease in targets and touchdowns is the emergence of tight end Zach Miller, although Miller only has 15 receptions, 222 yards and four touchdowns this season. He might not be targeted as much as Bennett and Jeffery, but he is undoubtedly being targeted more often in the red zone than Bennett has been. And Bennett is currently fifth in targets during the 2015 season according to Pro Football Talk.
Coach John Fox didn’t address whether Bennett is upset either, the PFT report says.
“You will have to ask him about that,” Fox said, per Biggs. “I don’t know. I don’t really care. I get upset too. I think he is one of the top-five targeted tight ends in the league.”
The frustration for Bennett didn’t just start in the last few weeks though, as he chose to opt out of voluntary offseason workouts because he was concerned about signing another contract with Chicago. It appears that Bennett is choosing to react negatively to the situation instead of being a team player, and the PFT report also included information surrounding Bennett choosing to not watch the Bears’ primetime road game last week in which he sat out with a rib injury.
If this drama between Bennett and the Bears continues for the rest of the season then Chicago will have to decide what to do with him this offseason. He might suffer the same fate as Marshall did when the team decided that he had become a distraction, and the Bears would likely try and trade Bennett to get something in return for him.
As if the whole situation wasn’t awkward enough, Bennett has also finally broken his media silence, and really didn’t help his cause any.
“There is a difference between being hurt and being injured,” Bennett said. “I had a pretty significant injury.”
“I just think there is a lot of (stuff) going on in the world that is more important than me talking about football,” he said. “I’m not trying to contribute to the distractions when the real current events are going on. I just feel like there is no reason to be another distraction with the things that are going on in Chicago with the police and the killings and you know the bombings across the world and all that stuff, it’s way more important than me sitting right here talking about football.
“So I just feel like there is just no reason for me to talk. People’s attention should be focused on what is really going on in the world.
“There are a lot of situations going on. I just wish everybody would educate themselves on the things that are going on in the world and figure out ways we can make a difference, you know, like Gandhi said, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world,'” via the Chicago Tribune.
While the details surrounding Bennett and the Bears have stayed somewhat local, it doesn’t bode well for Bennett staying in Chicago after this season. Sometimes it is better for two parties to go their separate ways, and a split between these two appears to be closer than many ever thought would happen. But, apparently not everything is looking bright in the Windy City, and it could make the Chicago winter even more bitter.