Michael Bennett, Star In The MakingOctober 30th, 2012
Nothing like playing your best football during a contract year, and that is exactly what Bucs left defensive end Michael Bennett is doing.
Bennett, whose contract is up after this season, has been a wildman for the Bucs, both when he goes inside on occasion or when he stays outside. Even the numbers crunchers at ProFootballFocus.com agree. They broke down the tape of the Bucs win over Minnesota last week.
After a fast start to the season Gerald McCoy came up with a quiet performance on Thursday night, so the job of the leading the Bucs’ defensive line was left to Michael Bennett. After a couple of subpar performances out of the bye week Bennett rebounded with a strong all-round game in Minnesota. He made his presence known as a pass rusher (one sack, one hit and three hurries), was solid as ever in run defense, and forced one of the fumbles that helped turn the game in Tampa Bay’s favor. There Bennett exploited some poor ball security from Viking wide receiver Jerome Simpson in pursuit to a slant route to create the turnover which set up the Buccaneers’ drive to a 13 point lead. The brother of Martellus made his presence known from the first snap of the game, reading a play action rollout from Christian Ponder to force a throw away, and kept chipping in all night long. His night culminated in a sack of Ponder in garbage time as he comfortably got the outside of Phil Loadholt to register his first sack since the bye week. Just another workman like performance from one of the more underrated defenders in the league.
The thing that impresses Joe about Bennett is he is doing this with no help from the other side since Adrian Clayborn went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Still, Bennett is able to wreak havoc. This is a good thing. Now if Bowers can stay healthy and improve, an already solid Bucs front line will only get better.