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Cowboys scouting report: Michael Bennett offers versatility and pass rush ability

Michael Bennett will put on the star for the first time for Monday night football. Here’s what to expect.

NFL: New England Patriots at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a week since the Cowboys made the surprising move of trading for 33-year-old Michael Bennett ahead of the trade deadline.

In just a few days, Bennett will make his Dallas Cowboys debut in primetime, against their division rival, the New York Giants. With the whole world watching, Bennett is hoping to make the Patriots look silly and the Cowboys look like geniuses. Let’s take a look at the film over the last few years, to see what version of Michael Bennett the Cowboys will be getting.

Michael Bennett is going to be a very similar version of Tyrone Crawford, but maybe even better. He’s going to play right defensive end, left defensive end, and 3-technique. Bennett will likely make his biggest impact at 3-technique for the Cowboys as his quickness, twitchiness, and power from the interior is impressive for a 275-lb human. Bennett can do some damage from both defensive end spots as well.

Here Bennett is lined up at right defensive end, rushing against our own Tyron Smith. Bennett’s technique in this rush is nice. He blocks Smith’s initial hand strike by pairing hands with Smith on the edge. Tyron is known for having some of the strongest, most powerful hands in the NFL, so Bennett’s ability to match that strike with power is impressive in itself. Bennett then swipes Tyron’s hands, rips underneath the block with his inside shoulder, and flushes Dak out of the pocket for a minimal gain. Bennett rarely gets to the quarterback super quick when rushing from the ends, but his motor, and technique, allows him to always be around the quarterback.

People question Bennett’s strength along the interior, likely due to him being known as more of a defensive end than defensive tackle. This play is an impressive example of how strong Bennett really is. He blows up this play by converting his speed to power, striking the center right in the breast plate, and keeping his chest over his knees when powering into the backfield for the tackle for loss. These are the types of plays the Cowboys hope to get from Michael Bennett in week nine, and for the remainder of the season.

Here’s yet another example of Bennett’s quickness giving interior offensive lineman fits. Bennett doesn’t always have to make the sack or tackle to be disruptive, and with players like Robert Quinn, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Maliek Collins lined up beside him, his disruption skills will help make life easier for the other guys along the defensive line.

One thing to notice with Bennett is his ability to reduce his strike zone by shedding his shoulder pads away from offensive linemen’s hands. Rarely does the veteran rusher give offensive lineman clear strikes at his chest area, which makes him a very tough guy to anchor to.

Another example of Michael Bennett’s disruption, that leads to another player recording the tackle. Bennett doesn’t mind doing the dirty work, and can consistently win along the interior in both the passing and running game.

While some may question Bennett’s gap discipline, Bennett is a veteran and rarely abandons gaps that lead to big plays on the ground. The 33-year-old veteran uses his instincts to know when he’s able to get up field, and when he’ll need to sit back and stay in his gap, something the Cowboys interior lineman have struggled with so far this season.

Last but not least, another example of Michael Bennett winning along the interior with excellent technique, quickness, and athleticism. Bennett wins with a club-chop technique that leaves the right guard with no chance of stopping Bennett from the sack. The burst Bennett shows after getting even with the lineman is great, but notice how he gets his inside foot pointed toward the quarterback to give him the easiest path to the quarterback with no wasted movements.

The nuance that Michael Bennett still plays with at this point in his career is impressive, and he can bring a new dynamic to this defense that they desperately needed with Tyrone Crawford on IR, Trysten Hill disappointing, and the 3-technique depth looking rather questionable.


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