During the preseason, there was a lot of discussion about how the Cowboys were going to use Martellus Bennett in a way that vaulted him from being known only to devoted followers of his Twitter account. Two tight end formations were going to be all the rage, with Tony Romo using Bennett the same way he used Jason Witten.
It's been three games and we're still waiting for it to happen. Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning Newsshared some statistics about the number of balls thrown to various Cowboys this season. Witten remains Romo's favorite target, followed by Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams. Bennett has only been targeted nine times and he's caught just three of those passes, paltry figures for a player expected to play a major role in the offense.
Against the Panthers on Monday night, the Cowboys designed two plays specifically for Bennett and each one was a disaster. The first saw the tight end go in motion, pretend to fall down and then try to slip behind the defense for a screen. Bennett never got through the defensive line and Romo was sacked for a big loss. The second play was the second of two straight attempted fades in the quarter. It was a terrible call by Jason Garrett made all the worse when Bennett did a pirouette as the ball sailed over his head and out of bounds.
Whether that's a problem of design or execution is almost beside the point. The Cowboys, and Garrett especially, don't need to find more reasons to go away from the run. The last two weeks have made it abundantly clear that the offense is going to go as far as the running game can take them, not only because it is capable of churning up 200-plus yards a game but because of the way it sets up the rest of the offense as the defense crowds the box to eliminate the run.
As that happens, Bennett and all of the other pass catchers can make themselves useful by blocking for the running backs. If that's not enough, he can console himself on the internets until the passes start coming his way, because the Cowboys will be just fine without him.