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michael89156

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« : June 17, 2012, 12:54:50 PM »

Secret Superstar: Michael Bennett, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


June 17th, 2012 | Author: Nathan Jahnke
ProFootballFocus



In 2009 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive line looked nothing like their great line from earlier in the decade. They had 10 different players with at least 100 snaps. Of those 10, only two had positive run defense ratings and only two had positive pass rush ratings.

In 2010 they began their remodeling of the unit by drafting new starting interior linemen in the first two rounds, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. The following year the focus went to the outside of the line as defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers were drafted. They also added four defensive linemen in free agency this spring, so the line will look almost completely different from what it was just three years ago.

However, there is one player who was on that 2009 line that will definitely make the 53 man roster. Michael Bennett went undrafted in 2009, but has worked his way up the Buccaneers’ depth chart and, in 2011, put together one of the greatest games by a defensive player we’ve seen. He was one of the very few bright spots on a defense that needs to get better in order for Tampa Bay to be competitive in 2012.


 

Rise to a Starting Role

Michael Bennett was a rookie free agent addition to the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 after playing at Texas A&M and was one of 11 defensive linemen to make the 53-man roster to begin the season. When October rolled around, the need for offensive line depth led to Bennett being waived and then picked up by Tampa Bay. Seattle had tried to use him as a defensive tackle, but the Buccaneers moved him back to his college position, defensive end. He instantly received a ration of snaps, spelling starters so that they could be fresher later in the game. In his 157 plays as a rookie, he had five overall pressures. He also had four stops, all coming from a game against the Packers.

Over the first three games of the 2010 season, he was on the active roster but not on the game day roster. From Week 5 to Week 9 he played 30.9% of snaps, which increased to 56.8% of snaps from Week 10 to Week 15. In Week 13 against the Falcons and Week 14 against the Redskins, he showed a constant ability to push run blockers into the back field to either make the tackle, or give his teammates the ability to make a stop. Over that time he had four stops, and a run defense rating of +3.7.

At the end of the season, the Buccaneers–recognizing Bennett’s strong play as well as a decline in Stylez G. White’s–gave Bennett the start and he played 74.8% of snaps in the final two games. Although Tampa Bay drafted Clayborn and Bowers, Bennett kept his starting job at left defensive end to begin the 2011 season.

 

A Monday Night to Remember

In the Week 4 game against the Colts, Bennett did as much to put the game into his own hands as any defensive end could. After helping his teammate make a tackle for a loss on the first drive, he made his biggest play on the second drive. He went unblocked by the right tackle and sprinted to the quarterback faster than the halfback could pick him up. Bennett proceeded to record a sack, force a fumble, and recover the fumble he just caused.

In the second quarter he continued his strong play with a tackle for a loss, a tackle for no gain, and helped the running back run straight into Gerald McCoy for a 4-yard loss. In the third quarter, he had another tackle for a short gain and a successful bull rush. The Colts were forced to turn to the pass late in the game as the ground game was largely unproductive. Over the last 15 pass plays, Bennett recorded a sack, a hit and two pressures. This resulted in a +11.6 overall rating for the game.

 

Improving Across the Board

In his first two years Bennett showed signs of being a good player in the run game, but in 2011 he was able to string together multiple solid plays in the same game rather than just making a play or two here and there.

Bennett is a perfect example of why we grade players in addition to keeping track of various other statistics. He finished tied with Leger Douzable for the 10th-highest Run Stop Percentage for 4-3 defensive ends at 8.6%. While that hints at his talent, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Bennett does an excellent job at pushing the man blocking him back and disrupting the play so the running back has to alter his path. This gives his teammates the opportunity to make the play and get the glory. Among 4-3 defensive ends over the course of the season, only Jason Pierre-Paul and Terrell Suggs had better run defense ratings than Bennett.

In 2010, Bennett managed just one sack and 16 hurries in his 263 pass rushes. The Buccaneers draft picks showed they were looking to upgrade their pass rushing, but they may not have expected Bennett to also be one of the solutions to the problem. In 2011 he increased his pass rushing snaps to 336, but also increased his sack total to four, his hit total to six and his hurries to 28. The teams overall sack numbers dropped in 2011 fro the previous season, but that was because the blitzing linebackers couldn’t get to the quarterback nearly as often as they should have.

Late in the season, Bennett missed two games with a groin injury, and also showed up on the injury report with a toe injury. That didn’t slow him at all, with two sacks, a hit, and six pressures in the Buccaneers’ last three games. His improved pass rushing can allow Bennett to be a three-down player rather than just an excellent run stopper.

 

Looking to 2012 and Beyond

While the Buccaneers brought in the pair of rookie ends a year ago and have added Wallace Gilberry and Jayme Mitchell, they still clearly have Bennett in their plans. Clayborn, Bowers, and Gilberry are all more geared to be pass rushers than run defenders, so even if everyone is healthy we should see Bennett on most run downs. Due to the injury to Bowers (torn Achilles), Bennett could see even more playing time than his 630 snaps from last year.

This line has come a long way from where it was three years ago–thanks in part to Bennett’s contribution–and it should just keep improving as Bennett and the young additions come into their own.

 

tatmanfish

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« #1 : June 17, 2012, 01:02:09 PM »

PFF loves to blow this guy. Their finely tuned grading scale based on play calls and assignments has him graded highly. Problem is, hes nothing more than average.

Of course, when you see Douzable as a comparison for their top 10 rankings, well, thats all you need to know about their grading system.



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lowlife

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« #2 : June 17, 2012, 02:48:06 PM »

PFF is usually an interesting read. Much more than any other analyst who make vague, shallow statements. PFF claims to watch every player on every team on every play, which is more than most if any source outside of a league personnel office can claim.

I've like Bennett since 09, long before I knew of PFF. He has all the tools and guys like Steve White recognized it.


The Anti-Java

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« #3 : June 17, 2012, 03:43:12 PM »

I like Bennett, and he is going to be even more important now that Bowers is on the shelf.  Just wished we signed his bro, but that shipped has sailed.



tatmanfish

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« #4 : June 17, 2012, 03:47:24 PM »

Much more than any other analyst who make vague, shallow statements. PFF claims to watch every player on every team on every play, which is more than most if any source outside of a league personnel office can claim.

Doesnt mean they are accurate, know play calls, assignments or any important info on determining whether a player had success based on what the team asked of them on each play.

Yes, they are a decent read, but one should definitely take their grades with a giant block of salt.



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ryan24

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« #5 : June 17, 2012, 04:15:32 PM »

Bennett may be a decent player but PFF seems to have some odd love of the guy. I don't agree about his run defense at all and just the overall tone of the article reeks of over the top fanboy stuff.

Happy and Peppy and Bursting with love.

lyronmewis

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« #6 : June 17, 2012, 04:43:01 PM »

Bennett does make some good plays, but a lot of big runs last year came on the outside, meaning the ends and CBs aren't doing a good enough job to contain. I don't know if Bennett sticks to his assignments or not, I would have to see the tape. It's good that we have a guy like him to replace Bowers.

SunnyD

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« #7 : June 17, 2012, 04:47:19 PM »

I'm a big fan of Michael Bennett.

I'm glad we put that 1st round tender on him.

Not sure Da'Quan would have taken his job even if he was healthy

Condor Bastadon

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« #8 : June 17, 2012, 09:10:53 PM »

Quincy Black was our "Secret Superstar" last year....tells you about all you need to know.

bucsbum

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« #9 : June 17, 2012, 09:51:07 PM »

Bennet will not be a super star but he will be an average starter in the NFL at best. All teams need there average players to fill there role and do there job. He will make the 53 man roster. Bennet is an average player who is over achieving on a team that has many under achieving players and that is why  Schiano is here.

JDouble

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« #10 : June 17, 2012, 10:11:41 PM »

He has looked very good even though he has been surrounded by mediocrity. If we had a top notch front seven......then I think Bennett could be outstanding. For example, plug him in on the Giants roster and he probably gets 10 sacks a year instead of 4 and is considered a play maker. If the guys around him can step up their game and stay healthy, I think Bennett could make it to another level.


The Anti-Java

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« #11 : June 18, 2012, 12:47:40 AM »

For an undrafted guy, he has done pretty well for himself.  I hope he continues to improve.



lowlife

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« #12 : June 18, 2012, 01:27:34 AM »

Much more than any other analyst who make vague, shallow statements. PFF claims to watch every player on every team on every play, which is more than most if any source outside of a league personnel office can claim.

Doesnt mean they are accurate, know play calls, assignments or any important info on determining whether a player had success based on what the team asked of them on each play.

Yes, they are a decent read, but one should definitely take their grades with a giant block of salt.

Neither can you, I, or any football analyst.
But at the very least they can say they've seen the player rather than basing their views solely upon someone else's thoughts or player reputation, I have a certain respect for that.
« : June 18, 2012, 01:31:32 AM lowlife »


lowlife

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« #13 : June 18, 2012, 01:30:54 AM »

Quincy Black was our "Secret Superstar" last year....tells you about all you need to know.

He was a pretty good player in '10. I was an advocate of his when everyone was crying about the contract (even though the figures were pretty ridiculous).
Then he played like Helen Keller in 2011.


tatmanfish

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« #14 : June 18, 2012, 02:44:58 AM »

Quincy Black was our "Secret Superstar" last year....tells you about all you need to know.

He was a pretty good player in '10.

No he wasnt...he never has been. At his very best, he was below average with lots of potential because his muscles were big and he could run pretty fast for a LB. 3 years of suck and people still defend his play.



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