As we continue our countdown to kickoff, we preview no. 9 in our series of most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season.
Last season the Bears entered the year with high expectations on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Jay Cutler was provided plenty of weapons including one of the most underrated tight ends in Martellus Bennett. The expectations were quickly dusted away as it was a disaster for the offense.
Now entering this season, Bennett is still one of the team’s best offensive weapons and could see more targets with the absence of Brandon Marshall. The Bears don’t have much proven depth behind the 6-foot-6 pass catcher, so his value rises even more this season. Bennett has looked like his normal self in training camp, becoming a quick favorite for Cutler in the passing game.
Bennett is very outspoken as the team has quickly learned. During the off-season he appeared on ESPN’s First Take and talked about Cutler. He spoke about the quarterback again in an interview with Chicago Magazine, even questioning the leadership of the position. But it doesn’t matter because despite what Bennett says or how he carries himself, he can play football. And the Bears really need guys that can play football and do it well.
As Chicago looks to their offense to put up points this season, Bennett’s role could be different from last seasons. As wide receiver Alshon Jeffery nurses a calf injury, Bennett could be the primary target for Cutler in week one. During the team’s third preseason game in Cincinnati, Bennett was targeted seven times by Cutler. He made all seven receptions and recorded 45 yards in the first half. That’s a good sign for the Bears offense moving forward.
But the real question will be how Bennett holds up in the blocking game as the Bears are looking to get back to establishing the run game early and often. If Bennett can be a solid blocker to add to his receiving skills, his importance will show early and often this year.