By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When the Patriots first traded for Martellus Bennett, there were questions about his character and stories about him being a disruptive force on his former teams. The noise certainly didn’t sound like Bennett would fit as a Patriot. But as it turns out, it was just that: noise.
Speaking of that, the Patriots have long been the best team in the league at ignoring it or blocking it out entirely as they prepare for games. It’s certainly not the biggest factor in their success, but it’s a factor. Bennett certainly has a way with words and isn’t afraid to speak his mind, but he also understands the Patriots’ intense focus on their work and dedication to blocking out the stuff that doesn’t matter – mainly, what the media and the people they quote are saying about them.
“We don’t really care, I think that’s the biggest thing,” said Bennett. “Nobody cares what you guys write, what you guys say. (laughs) Everybody just cares about what’s going on in this locker room and one another. I think that’s the biggest thing. We believe in one another and what we have here and we never really listen to the outsiders, because we know what’s true with what’s in this locker room with the coaching staff and the work that we put in on the practice field.”
Bennett added that he is used to hearing outside noise, even before he played pro football.
“People said all kinds of [expletive] about me my whole life, so I kind of got used to it now,” said Bennett. “I don’t really pay it any mind. People throw stones at you. After a while you get really good, and sometimes you get hit with them but they don’t affect you. And eventually you just start catching them.”
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Beyond his ability to absorb, withstand, or outright ignore the stones being hurled his way, Bennett’s also an “even-keeled” player during games, which is another tenet of Belichick-coached teams. Don’t let the highs get too high, don’t let the lows get too low, just focus on doing your job. It’s one of the reasons that the Patriots consistently beat the teams that they’re supposed to beat and rarely have letdowns. They don’t get too excited about big wins and don’t get too down on the off chance that they have a disappointing loss.
Bennett has exactly the right demeanor for that approach.
“The triple C’s is what I am: cool, calm, and collected,” said Bennett. “So I just kind of roll with it. … Football is such a roller coaster. I just try to streamline my emotions. When I first got here a lot of people thought it was weird because no matter what was going on in the game, I would just have the same facial expression throughout the whole time.”
Bennett sure sounds like a player who will succeed under the bright lights of the NFL Playoffs or when the Patriots face adversity. It’s important to have it together in those big moments, which so many teams have not had. Bennett played in two playoff games in 2009 with the Dallas Cowboys, winning one, but had only four targets between the two games. It’s unclear what kind of role Bennett will have with the Patriots in the playoffs or how he will perform, but his comments suggest that he won’t exactly choke.
Of course, there’s always the chance that the good times don’t last with Bennett in New England, because he did not last with the Cowboys, Giants, or Bears. But those teams also didn’t win as consistently as the Patriots have. This is unlike any experience he’s had in his career. And it turns out that he may be a better fit in New England than anyone could have imagined.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.