Michael Bennett left behind a Seattle Seahawks defense that boasted the best secondary in the NFL when he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. Fortunately, he made a soft landing. In Philadelphia he’ll bolster a defensive line that is second to none.
Bennett will be a pillar on a rotation that already includes Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Haloti Nagoti. At his introductory press conference, Bennett discussed this Eagles unit’s ceiling for throttling opposing offensive lines in 2018. Suffice to say, his expectations are high.
“I think it can be one of the greatest. I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game if we approach the game like every single way, just go out there and keep doing what they’re doing and just finding a way to just add and keep showing how many great players [we have]. And I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State, you want to be able to have those guys that can come in and shoot and shoot and score every time,” Bennett said.
Offensively, the Eagles are already Warriors-lite. Defensively, Jim Schwartz’s blitz scheme suppresses and disrupts volatile offenses. According to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles pass rush finished the 2017 season with 291 pressures, 41 more than any other team. Throw Bennett into the mix and they could be cooking with grease. Bennett also issued a warning to the NFC East’s panoply of quarterbacks, including Alex Smith, a former NFC East adversary.
“I know Eli Manning is probably watching this and thinking … yes, I’m coming. I know Dak [Prescott] is watching this like, ‘Yeah, he’s coming.’ Yeah, I am,” Bennett said at his introductory news conference Monday as a member of the Eagles. “And Alex Smith, he knows he can’t run from me. I told him in the Pro Bowl.
Bennett, 32, was still elite at the dual task of stopping the run and pressuring quarterbacks during his last season in Seattle. Bennett registered 8.5 sacks and 68 pressures, which would have led the Eagles. Meanwhile his 12 run stops would have been second on the Eagles. Topping the ’02 Tampa Bay Bucs, the ’81 Jets’ “New York Sack Exchange” and the Steel Curtain’s front four is a high bar to clear.
Bennett should temper his expectations for the overall defense. The Eagles secondary is a few notches below the Legion of Boom’s. Bennett hasn’t lost his gift for gab and hyberbole, but at a minimum, Philadelphia may have the greatest contemporary defensive line.
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