Patriots 2019 

Training Camp. 

The Pats Are In Some Big Trouble: Part II.

By TOM

Michael Bennett is back on the field and the Pats need him. “Michael was excused for personal reasons,” Cesario said. “Michael’s been great to work with, so we’ll leave it at that. I really don’t want to get into it any further.” It’s odd how OLT and edge-rushers have become the next most important positions behind QB and are currently the Pats weakest positions. 

Bennett was finally able to join the Pats after years of man-love from BB, because the felony charges where finally dropped. “After looking at all the evidence and applying the law, a crime could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Texas D.A. Vivian King said. “There was probable cause to warrant a charge initially, but after a careful review of all the pre-charge and post-charge evidence, we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.” But he can hit the QB from any position on the D-line. 

Deatrich Wise just returned as well. He was de-PUPed, after his bum ankle got better. But he is more of a power rusher than a speed rusher like Bennett. Wise gets to the QB through attrition. He garnered 9.5 Sacks his first two seasons. Which is not bad, but they need him to hit the QB consistently now. The learning is over for him. They need him to have 8 to 9.5 Sacks this season. As Brady gets older in his forties, the Pats are going to need the run game and the defense to be better every year. 

Wise has to be more disruptive this year, period. “Everything I do is mental reps or physical reps. When I’m not in, I need to learn from the people that are in front of me, or learn from the coaches’ tips,” Wise said. “If it’s sacks, closing the pocket, containing him, putting your hand in his face, [PBUs]. Anything to disrupt the quarterback’s communication. Anything to get him off his rhythm. That’s being disruptive. Being disruptive that’s what our coaches preach.” He has the talent, with some luck, to get 8-9 Sacks this season. 

I thought Wise was a guy who could get a season on double digit sacks once (or so;) in his career. “I’m still trying to be a student of the game. It’s only my second year and I’m still learning,” Wise said. “[I’m] still have room to improve. While I’m learning, I’ll also tell the guys who came in behind me, the rookies now, little smaller things that helped me out. Just like the vets did me.” They need Wise and/or Rivers to really step it up this season. 

The problem with Bennett is that he is one year plug, because he is such a nutjob. “I had a personal reason. I didn’t retire, I heard everybody said that I retired. I was laughing at home…. Laughing! Like no, I didn’t retire. No. I just had a family issue that I had to go take care of,” Bennett said. “I was lucky Coach Belichick [was so desperate for an Edge guy]. It’s nice when you have a coach that sees you as a human. [He] sees you as a human being, not just a number. And you’re able to go talk to him. Tell him what’s going on, and you’re able to go take care of it. That just makes you want to play harder for a coach, when he believes in you and lets you take care of your family first.” But he can sure hit the Quarterback. 

Derek Rivers is my guy. I had him going in the 1st when the Pats snagged him in the 3rd. I called him in instant steal. But he hurt his knee after showing an elite work ethic that won him the coveted parking spot closest to the facilities. He flashed some dash to the QB as a rookie. He has to get the spark he lost, when he hurt his knee, back. I expect more from him than most, because he is an elite athlete and I had him rated so high

He had 41 career sacks at Youngstown State and showed he had that knack for hitting the quarterback. “You have to play the run to play here. You have to be able to defend the run,” Rivers said. “And just to be able to work on my craft and all aspects of my game to become a more all-around player.” He was top five in four drills at the Combine: 3-Cone (6.94), Bench (30 reps), Forty (4.61), and Vert (35”). He has to put all that potential into Production now. 

Bennett garnered 9 Sacks last season and 17.5 the past two seasons. The Pats need 8 to 10 sacks from him this season and more in the Playoffs. They are really relying on him to hit the QB this year and maybe more than any edge guy in a while. He is also great as an inside rusher. Remember when he played for Seattle. BB would rave about Bennett all night and day if you would listen. 

I don’t think he quite gets it yet. “I'm just a lucky guy to be able to come into an organization with no added pressure,” Bennett said naively. “This is just a team. I mean, I always dreamed about getting a chance to play in that stadium. When I grew up [watching] Adalius Thomas and Ty Law and all those guys were guys I looked up to. And it's just an honor to be able to walk into that place. Like I said before, I take every moment and I cherish every day like it's my last. And I just play as hard as I can.” The plan is to build the rush around him. 

Shilique Calhoun is another interesting young Edge guy. “Shilique is kind of in between a defensive end or a ‘Sam’ linebacker,” Jack Del Rio said. “He’s an end-of-the-line kind of guy. He’ll have versatility in that he can play the Sam linebacker for us or the Leo position [edge guy]. He’s a very productive young man, really understands how to rush the quarterback. He’s been an All-American. He’s been a very productive guy at a good college program.” He was great a Michigan State. 

Very productive. But he was seen as a boom or bust dude in the Draft. He reminded me of Chandler Jones in the Draft. He is a great long-armed (34.2” Arms), and long, tall, lean rusher. He also had sub-7.0 3-Cone (6.97) at the Combine. Those are the Numbers BB looks for. I don’t know what happened to make him bust in Oakland. But the Pats will give him some simple things to do on the Edge in the Preseason. If he comes through he still has a chance to be a boom. 

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So much of this season is resting on Bennett’s and the young passrushers’ shoulders. Mentally, he seems to be able to hold it together when he is playing football. It is when the season is over that he seems to go nuts. The Pats only need 6 months or so of mental stability and hitting the QB to help the Pats to the Super Bowl. It is good that he respects Mayo. 

He has to get along with the coaches in Camp. “I told Jerod that I'm not listening to him because we're the same age. No, but it's good because we came out at the same time in the draft and I remember him playing,. We used to work the Ty Warren camp together, and now he's the coach,” Bennett said. “It's nice to have a young guy who knows the plays, who lived the defense, and he just knows. You trust the way that he plays because he played in the game and you know he knows the call. He was the leader before, so to have him in the huddle every single time, you can't let him down because he's been in the game.” It is not the worst thing in the world for a 33-year old veteran to take the first three days of Camp off for any reason. 

He knows how to rush the passer and knows what he is doing on the field. “He just said just do your job. I think he said that Coach Belichick is a great coach and he's always going to ask you to do more than what you're capable of doing,” Bennett said. “[He doesn’t] make you change positions or make you do things that you're not used to doing and work on every skill. I'm happy about that. That's all you can ask for as a player is a coach who wants to help you continue to get better and help you prove yourself over and over.” He just needs to learn the Pats system mentally.

It is not rocket science and they aren’t going to ask him to do anything he didn’t do in Seattle. “I just work as hard as I can every day, honestly. I think it's easy. It's practice. You've been playing this game, you know how to condition yourself," Bennett said. “It's not easy to make it to 11 and 12 years in the NFL at defensive line, so when you are able to do that you just continually work hard in the off-season and you get a lot of young guys around you. When you've got great teammates, they help push you so it's good.” BB loved his game in Seattle. 

They want him to do what he did in Seattle. “What motivates me? I think winning. I think the opportunity to build teams. That's what's the best part of the game. When you have relationships. I love winning,” Bennett said. “But I also love to build a great relationship with new people and the opportunity to be put in new positions and try new things and keep improving myself as an: individual, as a father, as a husband, as a businessman. 

“The opportunity to have that growth. I've been comfortable in Seattle over there. Now it's time for me to take another step in something I can improve in, whatever they ask me to do, things I'm not used to do doing and I want to improve on that.” 

So now it is just a matter of health, both physical and mental. He can change the defense if he can still hit the quarterback and draw the doubles. The Pats have some good young rusher and need a veteran rusher to help the group become veterans instead of wannabes. A little too much depends on Bennett this season. But if he can stay healthy he can be that guy.  

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