Patriots Have “Baby Gronk” In Martellus Bennett

There’s a strong argument to be made that Rob Gronkowski is the most valuable non-QB in the NFL.

Gronk’s size, athleticism, versatility, and smarts make up a player that’s quite possible the best offensive player in football.

Martellus Bennett had a very Gronk-like game against the Dolphins on Sunday.

The Patriots used him in similar ways as both a receiver and blocker, and Bennett proved to be up to the task no matter the assignment.

When Gronk does eventually return from his hamstring injury, the Patriots will have two tight ends that are plus receivers and plus blockers.

Having two players like that, let alone one, on your team is rare to find in the NFL.

A great play design here by Josh McDaniels and the Patriots on the play-action tight end screen. All 11 guys do a great job selling the play fake, and the Pats get great blocks downfield by Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan. The Patriots have used Gronk in tight end screens many times in the past, and Bennett also shows similar after the catch ability on this play.

Bennett also proved to be effective in the red zone on Sunday. The seam route should have a patent with Gronk’s name on it, especially in this area of the field. The Miami linebackers get confused with who’s supposed to continue with Bennett to the end zone, but he shows of some athleticism blowing right past them.  Garoppolo was a little late to recognize it, but Bennett was so wide open it didn’t matter.

The Patriots completely fool the Dolphins defense with the hard play action on this play. It leaves Bennett wide open, but yet again we see that after the catch ability that not many tight ends have. Bennett hands out a vicious stiff arm to Dolphins CB Byron Maxwell, and picks up a big chunk of extra yards. Having two big tight ends that can move like that in the open field is going to be a disaster for opposing defenses.

 

Part of what makes Rob Gronkowski so valuable is his ability to block in the run game. Here, the Patriots know they can rely on Bennett to block Dolphins defensive end Terrance Fede. This allows Marcus Cannon and Shaq Mason to double old friend Chris Jones at the point of attack. Thuney pulls, and delivers the final blow to the linebacker in the hole, and Blount scores. Although Martellus might not be on Gronk’s level in terms of blocking, he’s very capable of doing similar things to Gronk in the run game.

The Patriots get good blocks from multiple people on this play to allow Blount to turn the corner. Bennett delivers a perfect block to get Blount around defensive end Andre Branch. Bennett’s ability to make that play allows Joe Thuney and Nate Solder to get out in front and make the block that springs Blount down the sideline. Also a hell of a run by Blount.

What Martellus Bennett showed us on Sunday is that the Patriots now have a Gronk and a “baby” Gronk.

Josh McDaniels will be able to think up all sorts of different ways to use these two together both in the run and pass game.