Tag:Martellus Bennett
Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:51 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Tight End Rankings

Shiancoe leads what is a fairly unimpressive group of free agent tight ends. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the tight ends.

Originally for this post, I listed Jermichael Finley for the No. 1 spot on this list. Obviously, he was an easy call, because he was so obviously the best tight end on the market. Now, though, he’s a signed a two-year deal with the Packers worth about $7.5 million per season, and therefore, the free agent tight end class of 2012 suddenly has grown awfully weak (let’s face it, it wasn’t all that great with Finley on top either).

The best tight ends in the game -- guys like New England’s Rob Gronkowski, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, San Francisco’s Vernon Davis and Finley -- are safely secure with their respective teams, and those teams who actually are looking for tight ends will have to draw on a list with very few, if any, top-line playmakers. Considering Gronkowski and Graham are helping to redefine the position, that’s not great news. Nevertheless, here we go.

1. Visanthe Shiancoe

Breakdown: Since catching 56 passes for 566 yards and 11 touchdowns when Brett Favre was throwing to him, Shiancoe’s production has decreased the past two seasons, especially in 2011 when he caught 36 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns. Since he made $4.5 million last season, it doesn’t seem likely the Vikings will re-sign him. Especially since the Vikings seem high on Kyle Rudolph. But unless Favre is planning to return for another season (and let’s face it, we can never rule out this option), the value of Shiancoe isn’t as high as it once was.

Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Browns

2. Martellus Bennett


Breakdown: Though Bennett doesn’t have impressive receiving numbers, that’s not what he’s called upon to do. Instead, he’ll be one of the more valuable tight ends in free agency because he’s top-notch run blocker. Bennett oftentimes is overshadowed by his teammate Jason Witten, but his worth to the Cowboys is evident every time Bennett steps on the field (it also seems evident, though, that Bennett’s time in Dallas is finished). But in order to get paid tons of money, he needs to show he can catch the ball, and that’s something missing from his arsenal at this point.

Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Broncos, Jets, Bengals

3. Joel Dreessen


Breakdown: Dreessen is a solid tight end, and he’s been an important cog for the Texans as quarterback Matt Schaub, receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster have turned Houston into a consistent top-10 offense in the past three years. He’s not a big-time pass catcher, but he’s a solid run-blocker (as Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward likely would attest). The Texans would like to keep their two tight end set, but assuming Owen Daniels can stay healthy, Dreessen becomes a little more expendable in Houston.
Fred Davis
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Jets, Giants, Texans, Redskins

4. Fred Davis

Breakdown: He’s actually a pretty good candidate to be franchise-tagged by the Redskins (safety LaRon Landry (and his muscles!) is another candidate), and considering he caught 59 passes for 796 yards in 12 games last year in the best season of his career, Davis is a potential emerging star. Unfortunately for Davis, he was suspended for the final four games of the season for a failed drug test, and if he happens to fail another one, he’d be suspended for a year. So, there’s a little bit of a gray cloud following him around, and teams that need a tight end might shy away from a potential off-the-field problem like that.

Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

5. Jeremy Shockey


Breakdown: It was only four years ago when Shockey was considered an elite tight end, good for about 60 catches, 600 yards and six touchdowns per season from 2004-07. He’s been hurt (literally) by injuries, and after the Saints released him in 2010, he was solid enough  last season in Charlotte (though the team did like the toughness he brought to the squad). Shockey has talked about wanting to play in Miami -- he’s also talked apparently about retiring, though it seems like everybody is denying it at that point -- but with Anthony Fasano already entrenched as the Dolphins tight end, Shockey probably would have to be content to play as the No. 2 tight end. He made $4 million last season, and in order to return to the Panthers to play with tight end Greg Olsen, he’d probably have to take a paycut.

Potential Landing Spots: Dolphins, Giants, Panthers
Shockey

6. John Carlson


Breakdown: Carlson missed the entire season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, so there will be plenty of caution surrounding him, even though he’s caught at least 50 passes in two of his first three seasons in the league. Making matters worse, Carlson said in January that he’s not completely healed, estimating that he was only at 90 percent. “Obviously missing the season is not ideal,” he told the Tacoma News Tribune. “But that was the situation I was in. I feel really good. I didn’t beat my body up over the course of the season and my shoulder is repaired.” Carlson is also a solid run-blocker, and he seems like one of those guys who could move into the top-10 of tight ends around the league.

Potential Landing Spots:Seahawks, Rams

7. Jacob Tamme


Breakdown: Like most everybody inside the Indianapolis franchise, Tamme suffered without Peyton Manning around. Playing in place of the injured Dallas Clark, Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns in 2010. Last year, those numbers dropped to 19 for 177 and one. Which obviously is not the kind of season you want to have in a contract year, but it reflects Tamme’s position on the team and, probably, in the league. He’s a solid backup, the No. 2 tight end in a two-tight end set. He has talent, but it’s unclear how much of that was reflected off Manning. He could be a low-risk, somewhat-high reward guy for the right team.

Potential Landing Spots: Colts, Dolphins, Broncos, Bengals

8. Honorable Mention


Unrestricted free agents: Scott Chandler, Reggie Kelly, Daniel Fells
Restricted free agents: None

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Posted on: September 28, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:30 pm
 

Film Room: Cowboys vs. Lions preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

For the first time seemingly since their Portsmouth days, the Detroit Lions will enter a nationally-followed non-Thanksgiving game with high expectations to live up to. They’re taking their 3-0 record to Dallas to face Tony Romo’s Ribs and a Cowboy defense that is getting more potent by the week in Rob Ryan’s scheme.

You’ll hear plenty this week about how the Lions can bring some much needed joy to the struggling Motor City, and about how they have crawled out of a miserable past decade, and about the wonders of NFL parity and turnaround stories.

These human interest stories are nice, but they’re only relevant because of what the Lions do on the field. Here’s a look at that.



1. Open formations
The Lions have lined up in shotgun 67 percent of the time this season, mostly in a 2 x 1 single-back set (two receivers to one side, one to the other). Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has taken this approach because it plays to the strength of his two young backfield stars: Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best.

The semi-spread formations clarify the reads for Stafford and propagate a lot of quick-strike throws (which he has the arm strength and compact release to execute). Because defenses are compelled to roll coverage to Calvin Johnson (by far the most athletically gifted wideout in the NFL), Stafford has opportunities to exploit the seams.

This is a big reason why Detroit drafted Titus Young in the second round. Young is an unrefined route runner at this point, but route running precision is not the end-all, be-all when you’re attacking zone coverages from the slot.

Also helping spread the field is the way Detroit crafts sideline routes for Johnson. When a receiver runs a downfield pattern outside the numbers, safety help over the top often becomes irrelevant due to the nature of the limited spacing. Thus, you get a one-on-one matchup by default. Johnson has never been great at beating double teams.

That’s partly why the Lions specifically send him on isolation patterns outside. They’ll do this at least five or six times Sunday because the Cowboys, like most teams, don’t have a corner who can handle Megatron alone.

Detroit’s running game also benefits from the three-receiver shotgun sets. The very nature of the formation creates extra spacing, which is what a finesse runner like Jahvid Best needs. It also aids Detroit’s blocking. Receiving tight end Tony Scheffler often aligns in the slot as the third receiver. Scheffler has never been a great run-blocker, but as a slot receiver he doesn’t have to rely on strength and technique as much.

When it’s a wideout in the slot, it means the Lions get to run against a nickel defense, something they’ve done with alacrity thus far. Best’s rushing numbers aren’t great, but the Lions’ run game overall is not the weakness it was a season ago.

2. Receiving X factors
Detroit’s second and third best receiving weapons are not wideouts. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew caught 11 balls for 116 yards against Minnesota. He’s a plodding runner with softer hands and more effective agility than you’d guess. Stafford loves when Pettigrew is matched up on a linebacker. It will be interesting if that’s still the case after he watches outstanding Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee on film this week.

Pettigrew ranks third on the team in receiving. Ranking second is Best, who has 15 catches for 182 yards. Best, who has great elusiveness and acceleration, hurts opponents as a true receiver out of the slot, and he kills them as a screen receiver out of the backfield. One of the unheralded reasons Best thrives on screens is Calvin Johnson is a superb downfield blocker.

3. The much-ballyhooed defensive line
The Lions front four is as good as advertised. And it may only get better this week if Nick Fairley debuts as a pass-rushing defensive tackle (the first-round rookie has been out since undergoing foot surgery in August). Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch plays with great leverage and tenacity. Opposite him, Cliff Avril is a vastly underrated athlete who has recently gotten faster and stronger. Inside, underrated Corey Williams can play both a one-and two-gap style.
 
Of course, Ndamukong Suh is the driving force of Detroit’s front four. Suh’s greatest asset is his ability to quickly exert power off of movement. Elite defensive tackles like Vince Wilfork, B.J. Raji or Haloti Ngata often overpower opponents with their sheer size and force.

But those guys all weigh 330-plus and are wide enough to play the nose. Suh, at 307 pounds, is a beast, but he doesn’t quite have that exceptional raw power to dominate every down in a phone booth. However, he compensates by having the initial quickness and agility of a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end (that’s end, not tackle).

Suh is off to an incredible start this season because he’s now learned to consistently use that quickness to create favorable positioning immediately off the snap. Moves that take most players two seconds to execute, he executes in less than one. Thus, he’s always facing blockers who are caught just a little bit off-guard. That’s all Suh needs to take their manhood.

For the most part this season, the Lions have relied on straight four-man pass-rushes. But last season, against upper-tier offensive lines, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham would have a few of his linemen roam around before the snap in order to create confusion. Given Dallas’ inexperience, it would not be surprising to see Cunningham move Suh around on Sunday.

But Cunningham won’t dig too far into that bag of tricks if he doesn’t think it’s absolutely necessary. He knows there are also plenty of ways to create matchup problems with his traditional fronts. For one example, see the illustration below:


From this alignment, Suh creates a mismatch either for himself or the defensive end next to him – it depends on how the Cowboys choose to block it.

In this formation, the Cowboys have three players to block two. But personnel is still a problem. By splitting the defensive end out wide (in what’s called a nine-technique) and putting Suh in the B-gap (between the offensive guard and tackle) the Cowboys have three options here, all of which put them in an unfavorable position.

Option A: They double-team Suh with guard Kyle Kosier and tackle Tyron Smith, which leaves their tight end (either Jason Witten or Martellus Bennett) overmatched one-on-one against Cliff Avril.

Option B: They let OT Smith block Avril, which leaves a terrifying one-on-one matchup for G Kosier against Suh.

Option C: They send the tight end on a passing route, but it will have to be a short one because they’re still dealing with a one-on-one matchup between G Kosier and Suh.

Option D: The Cowboys slide protection to the right side, which is unlikely because it makes life too easy for Detroit’s other two defensive linemen and could also compromise the left side of the field for passing route options.

4. Lions pass defense
The secondary has been the Lions’ Achilles heel the past two years. But this season, the Lions are allowing only 188 yards per game through the air, fourth best in the NFL. That could just be a function of weak opponents, though. In Week 1, the Lions faced a Bucs receiving group that lacks speed. In Week 2, the Lions faced a Chiefs offense that was without dynamic tight end Tony Moeaki and thin behind the seemingly detached Dwayne Bowe.

In Week 3, the Lions faced a Vikings team that humorously believes Michael Jenkins and Bernard Berrian form an adequate one-two punch outside. A true test for the Lions secondary may have to wait another week, as the Cowboys without Miles Austin have a fairly feeble receiving corps.

Quality of opponent aside, give this secondary credit for its improvements. The Lions play a lot of Cover 2, but their corners have performed well in man coverage on third downs. Plus safety Louis Delmas has sharpened his ball-man prowess against tight ends.

5. What to expect
The Lions have not seen a defense as conceptually difficult as Dallas’. Against the Bucs and Vikings, Stafford had to only read zone coverages behind basic four-man pass-rushes. This Sunday, he and his offensive line will have to decipher more blitzes and sub-package personnel.

They have an ultimate resource in Calvin Johnson, though. The Cowboys simply can’t cover him.

If the Lions can exploit that mismatch early and play from ahead, they’ll make the Cowboys offense one-dimensional and vulnerable in long-yardage situations. That should be enough to get to 4-0.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 12, 2010 10:13 am
 

Hot Routes 8.12.10: injuries, absences and morons

Got a link for future Hot Routes? Shout at us on Twitter or send an email to andy [dot] benoit [at] cbs [dot] com.

USA Today reports that people living in the New York and New England area will get a chance to see the September 2 Patriots-Giants preseason game in 3D. No word on when fans will get a chance to see NFL starters in 3D.

Bills fourth-round rookie receiver Marcus Easley will indeed need knee surgery. Easley's 2010 season is over. Also, wideout James Hardy is out 7-10 due to injury. This likely means that Steve Johnson will capture Buffalo’s No. 2 receiver job.


Something people need to realize about the story of the fan who was told to remove his McNabb jersey at Eagles camp: that “fan” had a guest to be at practice. Team-issued credentials usually carry the unwritten – though sometimes written – rule of not wearing NFL apparel with them. And, the fan gladly removed his jersey and bought a Kevin Kolb jersey later in the day. In other words, this whole thing is no big deal.


Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis had this to say about super talented right tackle Andre Smith: “Andre’s doing OK. That’s not a well, that’s not a jumping jack. That’s not a backflip, he’s doing OK."


Michael Crabtree strained his neck in yesterday’s practice. It happened when Crabtree went up for a ball and came down hard on his back. No word yet on the severity.

Brad Childress still doesn’t know when Percy Harvin will return.

Since we’re on the Vikings, we’ll just get this over with for today: Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre…undecided.

Ladies and gentleman….Martellus Bennett: "What really counts is the season,” Bennett, who is sitting out with an injury, recently told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. “S***, I had a hell of a preseason last year. That s*** didn’t mean nothing. I had 300 yards or whatever in three games, but that doesn’t mean nothing. But what really counts is the season, not the preseason or whatever. I just want to get to the season and do my job."

Former Cowboys first-round pick Bobby Carpenter can’t even keep a starting job in St. Louis. Larry Grant has supplanted Carpenter at weakside linebacker.

Posted on: August 9, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Report: 'Boys Phillips ACL tear ends season

Posted by Will Brinson

Ugh.

John Phillips was very nearly a big winner from the Hall of Fame game on Sunday night. He looked superb in running routes, making tough catches and blocking, which is about all you can do as a tight end. Even with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett on the roster, he seemed prime to get some PT on a very talented Dallas Cowboys team in 2010.

And then he got hurt. We heard last night that it was possibly/likely an ACL tear, which stinks. Badly. Now Tim MacMahon reports that an MRI has confirmed those suspicions and Phillips will be done for the season.

"It's disappointing because he was having such a great camp and such a great game," tight ends coach John Garrett said after Sunday night's preseason win. "But I know one thing: He's got great resolve. He's got great perseverance. If there's anybody going to come back even stronger than he was before, it'll be John Phillips."

It's also disappointing because it happened in a preseason game, where nothing counts as "winning" except "not getting hurt." Which is precisely why we constantly debate whether or not these guys should even be playing in games that don't count.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: July 5, 2010 7:49 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 8:29 pm
 

Martellus Bennett makes another Youtube video

In his latest demonstration of “what happens when young athletes have too much time on their hands”, Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett has created a YouTube video in which he wears a beard and marches around, rambling like an idiot about Osama bin Laden. It’s likely that some group out there will find a way to be offended by this. (Of course, to do that, they’ll have to take Bennett somewhat seriously, which won’t be easy).

Bennett created a stir with a vulgar YouTube rap video last year. This latest “project” is far less thought out. Nonetheless, there’s roughly a 1/8 chance it will cause a stir in the mainstream media this week, so if you’re so inclined, you can view the video here.

UPDATE: Pro Football Talk reports that Bennett has removed the bin Laden video.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 15, 2010 12:31 pm
 

Martellus Bennett Tweets Apology To Vince Young

Yesterday we mentioned that Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett had a harsh Tweet for Vince Young. Today, Bennett, like Young, finds himself making apologies:

"I would like to apologize I wasn't trying to make the headlines or anything when I responded to a tweet asking what I thought about VYs ... Situation. Didn't wanna draw anymore negative attn to it. And for that I'm sorry. I wasn't tryna rip vince or anything I was jus saying ... Didn't think it was the rgt decision. Making several stupid ones myself I know how it is. I have nothing but love for the homie. ... Don't regret what I said jus nvr wanna make anyone elses situation worse."

Bennett issued this apology over multiple Tweets. In case you don’t already know, here’s the Tweet from yesterday that he is apologizing for:

"Mann I dunno wat 2 say abt VY that was childish & very unprofessional u cant do [expletive] like that when u play qb. He needs better ppl round him."

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 14, 2010 8:15 pm
 

Five Fun, Misc. News Tidbits From Monday

T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a great response when asked whether he thought it was wise for head coach Pete Carroll to have left USC:
"Yeah, of course. Get out when the house is burning.”
By the way, Houshmandzadeh’s comments were made to TMZ.

The Oakland Raiders are making their final OTA session closed to the media, which prevents Tom Cable and Co. from having to answer about the team’s OTA violations.

Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett (of all people) Tweeted this about Vince Young: “Mann I dunno wat 2 say abt VY that was childish & very unprofessional u cant do [expletive] like that when u play qb. He needs better ppl round him." Anyone who remembers Bennett as a rookie on Hard Knocks is smilingly right now. In an testament to the tight end’s own maturity, it should be noted that his Twitter account is “KungFuAstronaut”.

Bears great DE Richard Dent, analyzing the Chicago sports scene, had this to say about the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup title: "I don't think it ranks up there with our championship. People had a swagger when they talked about our championship because they know we would go out and kick ass and take names and come home with a victory. There was no doubt, there was no worry. It was all about taking care of business. If (the Blackhawks) play like that over the next three or four years....then you can start talking about other stuff." (If you feel like harping on Dent for favoring the Bears, read the entire article. He gives some pretty fair and balanced commentary on the entire Chicago sports scene.)

Sports Illustrated sent Peter King to South Africa to cover that lower-scoring brand of football, so Raiders erudite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wrote the Monday Morning Quarterback this week. You can view it here. It was well written but full of fluffy advice for rookies on page 1. The most interesting part was Asomugha saying that because he transitioned from safety to cornerback upon entering the NFL, he didn’t start to feel comfortable until his third year. A lot of people forget that he was considered a bust early in his career. Page 2 was more interesting. Asomugha wrote, “I think that Raiders fans and the 49ers fans would not be happy campers if they had to share a stadium together.”


---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com