In 2010, when the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, they ran 37 snaps with three tight ends.
In 2011, when they led the NFL in scoring and went 15-1, they ran 70 snaps with three tight ends.
In 2016, they didn’t even have three tight ends on the roster.
That will change for the upcoming season, with veterans Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks joining Richard Rodgers.
“We’ve played with three tight ends on the field at the same time, and we played with them in the backfield,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “Probably played them more displaced than we ever had. I’m looking forward to playing more with the tight end on the line of scrimmage. That’s definitely something that will be different this year than we’ve done in the past.”
Even two-tight-end sets vanished last year. In 10 games with Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers on the active roster, they lined up together only 51 times — or 5.1 per game. In eight games with Rob Gronkowski and Bennett on the Patriots’ active roster, they lined up together 202 times — or 25.3 per game.
Bennett is one of the premier all-around tight ends in the NFL. So while he might not offer the down-the-field threat that Cook delivered, he’ll give the Packers major impact as a blocker and receiver. Last season, he caught 75.3 percent of targeted passes and averaged 7.56 yards after the catch on his 55 receptions. That ranked second and first, respectively, among tight ends.
“His ability to do everything as a tight end is rare,” said Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who was Chicago’s offensive coordinator in 2015, when Bennett caught 53 passes in 11 games. “His variety on what he can do on his route tree is very impressive because he can stretch the field and he’s very big. He causes a lot of problems when he goes up in the seam. He’s a big body and he doesn’t have to be open to try and throw him the ball because he can get in front of the defender and they can’t run through him. If you give him a chance to run after the catch, he’s very tough to get down. He has very unique run skills for a guy his size.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.