Michael Bennett, who was dealt from New England to Dallas earlier this season, told reporters Wednesday he doesn’t have any beef with the way things ended with the Patriots.
The veteran defensive lineman, who was suspended for a week for what the Patriots called “conduct detrimental” — reportedly because of an incident with defensive line coach Bret Bielema — saw his playing time decrease dramatically in Foxborough. In New England’s opener against Pittsburgh, he played 37 snaps. In his final game with the Patriots on Oct. 10 against the New York Giants, he played just 11. Whether it was scheme or something else, it just never seemed to click for Bennett in New England — he finished with four tackles and 2.5 sacks in 130 snaps.
Yet, the 34-year-old Bennett said he enjoyed his time with Bill Belichick.
“I learned a lot of football in New England,” Bennett told reporters. “I think at the same time as a player you go into the situation and you think you know football, then you meet somebody who’s above you [like Belichick] and knows everything about the game. For me, I learned a lot about football in that situation, learning how to execute at a high level, learning what it takes to develop players. I learned what it feels like to break down a game plan from a different perspective, and I think it was good for me as a player. If I ever want to be a coach, it would be a good situation to take into that.
“At the end of the day, I just think Bill is a great motivator. I think he understands football from the beginning,” he added. “He’s a historian when it comes to football, plays. He can remember anything when it comes to it. He’s just a savant. I think he just knows how to put people in great positions to make plays, and I think you always go over every single thing about the game, the things that teams do, the chances that they might take, and I think probability plays a lot into the execution of the team.”
In his six games with the Patriots. he was mostly part of a rotation up front along the defensive line, and never played more than 55 percent of the snaps in any contest. In his three games with the Cowboys, he’s played at least 59 percent of the snaps in each game.
“It was an opportunity to get more play time than what we were able to provide,” Belichick said of the second chance Bennett has gotten on his 2019 campaign. “He’s probably giving the Cowboys what they wanted from him — some inside pass rush production on third downs and passing situations. He’s done that throughout his career.”
Bennett has seven tackles, three sacks and 12 pressures with the Cowboys.
“I really like Michael,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. “We’ve played against him a lot through the years, and he was always a very difficult guy to block, both in the running game and in pass protection. So, a lot of respect for him from afar for a lot of years, and we heard a lot of really good things about him as a guy. I was around him a little bit in the Pro Bowl a couple times, and he’s really transitioned very smoothly into our team. A really well-respected guy, well-respected player, and trying to understand how we’re asking him to do things and he’s done a really nice job for us.”