Jay Cutler has gotten the band together with the Chicago Bears. In addition to his favorite target from Vanderbilt in Earl Bennett, Cutler has his favorite target from the NFL in former Denver Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall. While Marshall and Cutler are pretty close to being one of the best combos in the NFL, Bennett has struggled to find a role with the Bears.
Bennett isn’t able to stay healthy and this could be the biggest contributing factor. But when Bennett has played this season, he just looks lost. His routes aren’t crisp and he isn’t really fighting for the football. This should be a great time in Bennett’s career with Marshall and when healthy rookie Alshon Jeffrey being the focal points of defenses. Instead, Bennett isn’t really much of a factor.
There was a time where Bennett was the Bears’ go-to guy for first downs. Those days seem like a distant memory. He was a master at planting himself right at the sticks and catching tough passes to keep drives alive. Now he’s lucky to consistently catch the football. It’s very frustrating.
There’s still plenty of time left this season and Bennett could find a grove, but except for a few instances in Chicago, Bennett just hasn’t been very good. Let’s keep in mind that while at Vanderbilt, Bennett set an SEC record with 236 career receptions and the first member of that elite conference to have 75 catches in three consecutive years. His first year for the Commodores in 2005 was with Cutler. In fact, Cutler loved Bennett so much that he actually threw to him during his pro day.
It should have been a telling sign that Bennett fell to the Bears in the third round of the 2008 season and really didn’t catch a single pass as a rookie. His second year in 2009 (when the Bears acquired Cutler), Bennett showed some promise with 54 catches for 717 yards and two touchdowns. In 2010, he caught 46 balls for 562 yards and three scores in 14 games. Last season in 11 games, he caught 24 passes for 381 yards and a score. This season, he has a measly 12 catches for 154 yards in only five of the Bears eight contests.
Bennett seems more famous for his orange shoes than his actual play in the illegal kicks. Perhaps it’s time for the Bears to part ways with Agent Orange as he likes to be called. Regardless of his future, it would be nice to see something more out of Bennett than a collection of NFL fines.
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