I've been reading quite extensively on the board that most Seahawks' fans expect that Red Bryant's role won't change and that he's firmly entrenched at LDE as that massive and immovable run-stopping, lineman-occupying, 5-tech DE in Seattle's "elephant" scheme. And I've also been reading that Michael Bennett will play the Jason Jones' role, which implies that he won't start and he'll strictly play in passing downs- because I've also been reading that many Seahawks' fans expect Seattle to still do something significant at 3-tech DT alongside Brandon Mebane, either by re-signing Alan Branch or using a late-2nd on the position.
Anyway, I only bring this up to mention what an extraordinary run-stopping DE Bennett actually is. Pro Football Focus, an analytical football website which dissects each and every player and play (and has really gained in popularity and reputability), has given out phenomenal grades to Bennett each of the last two years for his work against the run, actually suggesting that his play has been borderline elite in this regard. Even people who believe that Bennett is a "one-year wonder" because they exclusively look at sack totals fail to realize that in 2011, despite "just" 4 sacks from him that season, that he was absolutely dominant against the run.
I know that Red Bryant's role is unique and that he really doesn't offer a lot of versatility along the defensive line (hence why most Seahawks' fans seem so convinced he's locked in at LDE). But I really think that Seattle would be wasting quite a bit of Bennett's talent if they restrict him purely to passing downs- he's really incredibly well-rounded.
What do you think? Does Bennett have to pigeon-holed into purely passing the passer even when he offers so much else?
Welcome! I have to agree with others in saying that for a first post, you certainly got in the End Zone with this one -- excellent observations.
On Bennett, I wouldn't say that he is going to be pigeon-holed whatsoever. Far from it. In fact, I'd argue it's exactly the OPPOSITE. Part of the reason that I've advocated for signing Michael Bennett from the very beginning is that he is very much a Swiss Army Knife.
When Bennett was here before back in 2009, Jim Mora and the rest of the Hawks coaching staff ended up moving him inside to Defensive Tackle in the Pre-Season --and he looked very good there. He showed a lot of real natural quickness and an ability to penetrate in to the backfield with regularity. Why that regime would choose to let him go is simply beyond me (well, I guess it was Ruskell after all).
Anyway, Seahawk fans are naturally excited about the fact that Bennett racked up 9.0 Sacks in 2012 (and rightfully so. I am as well).
But the thing that I'm really pumped up by is the fact that Bennett notched 10 Tackles for Loss last year. Tackles for Loss is a stat that I'm personally high on, as it illustrates just how often a defensive player is getting in to the opposing backfield ... and bringing down opposing RB's/QB's/etc. before they can get going. For a lineman, it's a real mark in showing how effective they can be against the run. JJ Watt had 23 TFL ... and Von Miller had 14 TFL for example. Watt and Miller were a large part of the reason why their teams were among the league leaders in Rush Defense last year. Likewise, Bennett was a large reason why the Buccaneers finished #1 in fewest rushing yards allowed.
And those 10 TFL weren't simply an aberration. Bennett also notched 9 TFL in 2011 as well. So over the past 2 years, Michael Bennett has proven to be one of the most disruptive and one of the best in the league at bringing down opposing runners in the backfield for loss. He is not only a sack artist -- he is one of the NFL's best defensive lineman against the run.
For the Seahawks especially, THAT is something that they desperately need. I don't know how many of you know this or not ... but believe it or not the entire Seattle Seahawks defense recorded a grand total of 36 Tackles for Loss. Folks -- that was the LOWEST total in the NFL. Yep. Your Seattle Seahawks were DEAD LAST in the NFL in Tackles for Loss
... and to me that inability to get in to the opposition's backfield showed up week after week last season.
So, no -- Bennett isn't simply someone who is going to be "pigeon-holed" whatsoever.
In Passing Situations, we could possibly see:
LDE Michael Bennett
LEO Bruce Irvin
WILL Cliff Avril (ala Aldon Smith as a blitzing SAM)
[How's that for a Bermuda Triangle of death!]
In Run Situations, we could possibly see:
LDE Red Bryant
LDT Michael Bennett (in that Jason Jones role)
RDT Brandon Mebane
So Michael Bennett is not only a lethal weapon rushing the passer ... he is also a terror to opposing running backs and a whale of an asset in the run defense. For $5 Million, the Seahawks just got themselves one heck of a Blue Light Special.