And . . . and . . . Martellus Bennett just has to be better. Has to be. The guy just has too much talent to only catch 15 passes for 159 yards and no touchdowns. Best thing is, he knows it, too, and evidently has been working hard during the off-season training sessions.
Jerry Jones went out of his way to point that out this past Wednesday, in fact, right after he pointed out all the "weapons" Jason has, saying, "I got good compliments on Martellus, how hard he is working."
He wasn't the only one to say that, too. So did head coach Wade Phillips. And so did Mr. High And Tight, the tight ends coach himself, John Garrett, who said "Joe, Todd and Tony" have gone out of their way to point out what Bennett's been doing this off-season. Garrett refers to the weight and conditioning guys, Joe Juraszek, Todd Devers and Tony Ollison.
Plus, please note. These three form a tough, no-nonsense group. They don't gratuitously throw out bouquets. Not back in their domain, where you had better have tough skin, otherwise be ready to suffer third-degree verbal burns.
John Garrett thinks he knows what happened to Bennett, whose performances daily during training camp and during the preseason suggested a 50-catch year was on its way, not a 15-catcher. Come on, James Whalen once caught 17 in a season and Mike Lucky had 13 one year. And they certainly weren't second-round picks. Something went haywire upstairs in that fertile mind.
"He dropped a couple of passes early," says John Garrett, not one to make excuses by the way. "He lost confidence," which seems to be the irony of all this, coming from one who acts - at least in the locker room and outside of football - so confident.
Garrett, though, understands. "I used to play wide receiver, and once you drop a couple of passes," he said, pausing, not having to say the rest. "And I played some baseball, and when you get in a batting slump the ball looks about that big," using his thumb and forefinger to form a circle about the size of a quarter.
Then you start pressing. Then you continue dropping. And because you are no more than the second tight end, they freeze you out. There are not enough snaps in a game to thaw you out.
Garrett said Bennett was targeted 36 times last season. He caught 15. He dropped eight. Two catches to every drop will not keep you in this league long. And contrary to popular belief, Bennett didn't go where he was supposed to as many times as perceived. Maybe just a couple of times. They simply occurred in high-profile situations.
As John points out, if Bennett was a complete dog, a guy who didn't care and didn't devote enough time to his craft, then he certainly would not have blocked as well as he did his second season. John Garrett would have talked all afternoon about Bennett's blocking, on how much he not only improved, but how he at times dominated on the line of scrimmage, even those times when his footwork might not have been perfect but had the strength and the will to fight off defenders.
That's why Bennett still is here, and all those cockamamie trade rumors were just that, just like the ones about Marion Barber and Choice. Plus, humbled - somewhat - the kid, who by the way just turned all of 23 two months ago, has really buckled down this off-season to give himself a better chance of deleting any memory of last year.
And if he does that, and Bryant is what the Cowboys think he is, and Ogletree continues to come on, and Austin isn't the blue moon, and Roy can hold his own, and if Patrick Crayton, is somehow still here as he should be, and Jason Witten does his thing, and Felix gets more touches, and Marion stays healthy, and Tashard does his thing - and most of all, everyone stays happy and Romo healthy - my goodness, the Cowboys will be coming at you from every which way.
So like what's the NFL record for most yards gained in a season?
Well, 7,075, by the Rams in 2000. Hey, that's only 42.8 more yards a game than the Cowboys did gain last season.
More importantly, though, with that many weapons, the percentages of scoring that many more touchdowns should increase. And more touchdowns means more points. And more points should mean more wins if you consider the Cowboys