Dallas Cowboys

Michael Bennett: Any other defense is 'easy to learn' after Patriots

Michael Bennett: Any other defense is 'easy to learn' after Patriots

Michael Bennett didn't see much playing time with the New England Patriots, but he still needed to learn the in-depth defensive scheme. 

Following the trade that sent him to the Dallas Cowboys, Bennett needed to learn a new defensive system all over again -- which he now says wasn't too hard.

“It’s all the same really when it comes down to it,” Bennett said, according to The Athletic's Jon Machota. “The scheme is very familiar to something I’m used to. I just came from the place [New England] with the most defenses in the league, so any other defense is pretty much easy to learn.”

While the Patriots run a rather intricate defensive scheme under head coach Bill Belichick, it has resulted in New England being discussed with the 2000's Baltimore Ravens defense as one of the best all-time. 

Even after the trade to Dallas, Bennett, 33, is pondering retirement following the 2019 season. 

The Patriots and Cowboys will meet during Week 12 at Gillette Stadium.

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Point/Counterpoint: Ranking Patriots' opponents in this challenging four-game stretch

Point/Counterpoint: Ranking Patriots' opponents in this challenging four-game stretch

Every week during the NFL season, Tom E. Curran & Phil Perry will go head-to-head and offer their own takes on a Patriots or NFL-related question. This week, they debate the Patriots schedule. Which of their next four games is the toughest? They've ranked them here in order from strongest to weakest.

WHICH OF THE NEXT FOUR PATRIOTS GAMES IS TOUGHEST...RANK 'EM

EAGLES: On the road. Talented team. They turned the corner after getting smashed in back-to-back weeks by the Vikings and Cowboys. They’ve now won two in a row (at Buffalo, 31-12 and home with the Bears, 22-14). They’ve run for 364 over their past two games and are going to go right at the Patriots to see if they’ve spruced up their run defense over the bye. Philly’s also coming off a bye. Carson Wentz has been quietly efficient and tight ends have been finding success against the Patriots. Zach Ertz is the best one they’ve faced.

TEXANS: They have two tough ones in a row before the face the Patriots (Ravens and Colts). But they’ve won four of five and Deshaun Watson can be a handful. If the Patriots can get the pressure on him that they’ve been getting all season, they’ll be able to hold the Houston offense mostly in check. But when Watson is well-protected he’s as dangerous as any quarterback in the league.

CHIEFS: The one thing that would concern me here is if it gets into a shootout. The Patriots hadn’t shown a clockwork offense until the Ravens game. Did they find something that will spawn a more consistent approach especially on third down and in the red zone? And how does the back end hold up against the unfair speed combo of Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman? At Gillette? They should take care of business.

COWBOYS: Bill Belichick vs. Jason Garrett? I’ll take the Patriots in this one fairly handily. The Cowboys will also be coming off a game at Detroit before heading to Foxboro, so I wouldn’t underrate the chance to pick the brains of the Lions coaching staff and see how Dallas reacts to what Detroit does as being a key subplot to this one.

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CHIEFS: Patrick Mahomes. The combination of their team speed, the quarterback's arm and Andy Reid's scheme will be a handful for anyone the Chiefs see the rest of the way. Patriots included. Kansas City also seems to be adjusting to its new defensive identity under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who's assisted by former Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly. That's not a very good unit, but it might be a serviceable one by the time it gets to Foxboro. It'll be interesting to see Isaiah Wynn and Frank Clark match up. It might not be the preview of the AFC title game we all expected. But, given where the Chiefs record is, it might be a preview of the divisional round.

TEXANS: The Patriots will be on the road against the player who is probably, at the midway point of the season, the runner-up for league MVP. Deshaun Watson has been pressured at a rate higher than all but five quarterbacks in the league, yet he's sixth in yards per attempt, fourth in quarterback rating and fourth in completion percentage. Only Russell Wilson has been better. The Texans will be without JJ Watt, and their offensive line is still a mess. But if they're healthy at the receiver position -- as lock-down as the Patriots have been on that spot all year -- their second and third options could give the Patriots headaches. 

COWBOYS: Jason Garrett is still the boss in Dallas, but the offense has been handed over to Kellen Moore and the results have been impressive. Dak Prescott truly looks like one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league (third in yards per attempt, 8.71), and the Cowboys are no longer totally reliant on their running game. In fact, they've been an explosive play waiting to happen. They're first in explosive run rate this year, per Sharp Football Stats, and fifth in explosive pass rate. That's a dangerous combination. The Patriots shut those down with regularity (No. 1 in the NFL in limiting explosive plays), but if they're forced to bring additional forces into the box to try to slow down Elliott, they may make themselves vulnerable deep against Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

EAGLES: The Patriots should be able to take care of business following their bye. Philly's about to be in a situation where they have to start recently re-signed receiver Jordan Matthews. They don't scare anyone at that position. Zach Ertz should be doubled. And as long as Miles Sanders is bottled up in the passing game, the Patriots will be OK. The Eagles running game has been potent, but if the Patriots score early on Philadelphia's generous secondary, that should force Doug Pederson to chase points and eventually abandon his ground game. Against 11 personnel, which the Patriots ran for the entirety of their last game, the Eagles allow over 7.0 yards per pass attempt, a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 5.0 yards per carry. 

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NFL Trade Deadline: Several trades we wish had happened

NFL Trade Deadline: Several trades we wish had happened

The NFL trade deadline has passed, and this was a step in the right direction for a league that's getting more and more active trade-wise. But still, there were only two trades on deadline day: Aqib Talib to the Dolphins and Leonard Williams to the Giants.

Sure, there were a bunch of players traded leading up the deadline, including Mohamed Sanu, Emmanuel Sanders, Jalen Ramsey, and Marcus Peters, but Tuesday? It was more dudline than deadline.

That said, the league could have been a hell of a lot more exciting with these moves. 

Philip Rivers to the Bills

Or really any quarterback to the Bills, for that matter. Buffalo is one of the teams that's a player or two away from being a serious contender, but when that player is a quarterback, you might as well be 10 players away. Imagine Philip Rivers in the AFC East for a couple of months, and the defensively stout Bills suddenly having an offense. 

O.J. Howard to the Patriots

The Bucs' handling of their 2017 first-round pick has been confusing. They've used him primarily as a blocker, killing his trade stock. Then, when approached by teams that would actually like to throw Howard the ball, Tampa's price was sky-high. Sure, it hurts PR-wise to sell low, but if you don't think the guy fits with your offense, what other choice do you have? Something tells me the Patriots would have found a better use for him. 

A kicker to the Patriots

The Super Bowl favorites spent deadline day swapping out kickers from the trash heap. NFL teams generally don't trade kickers, but if they did the Patriots might have a quality one. 

Melvin Gordon to the Lions

The Lions were a pleasant surprise after their 2-0-1 start, but they're just 1-3 since. They also have a doozy upcoming schedule, so if Matt Patricia wants to push for the playoffs in his second year he could use an upgrade to a backfield that lost Kerryon Johnson to IR. In case you've missed it, the Chargers are a disaster this season and Gordon hasn't exactly helped them since returning from his holdout. 

Any quarterback to the Bears

Apply everything I wrote earlier about the Bills to the Bears. 

Larry Fitzgerald to the Ravens

The Ravens had barely any cap space after trying for Marcus Peters, so they would have had to do more than just give Willie Snead a new contract. Say they figured it out, though. Lamar Jackson would have another weapon and the 36-year-old Fitzgerald would be able to take another crack at a title run late in his career. 

Jamal Adams to the Cowboys

This one was rumored leading up to the trade deadline. I don't really care about the Cowboys getting a really good safety; I just like seeing first-round picks traded, and if such a deal went down, two AFC East teams would have multiple first-round picks in 2020. Potential competition!

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