During the season opener way back in early September, NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth said the “word” was that Michael Bennett was “none too happy with being a backup” in Philadelphia.
After those comments went public, Doug Pederson said he didn’t know of any displeasure and Jim Schwartz defended his new defensive lineman. But we never heard from Bennett on the topic.
Finally breaking his media silence after a few weeks, Bennett was asked about those comments from Collinsworth and cleared it up.
“I can’t watch the game when I’m playing,” Bennett said.
OK, well, that didn’t clear it up. But, after a few laughs, this did:
Like I said, I’m just happy to be in the situation where we can just win. I just want to win. At the end of the day, I just want to win. Things will fall into place as they will. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got 10 sacks or 20 sacks. If you’re losing, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s about winning. That’s the most important thing for this team, is to win. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team and expectations are high. We gotta rise to the occasion and I think we will. We’ve got a lot of great players. And, like I said, the most important thing is winning.
This is new for Bennett. Through four games, he’s played just 140 defensive snaps (54 percent). He has played less than Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. And while he’s played more than Chris Long on the season, Long got more snaps in two of four games.
Bennett is on pace to play just 560 snaps this season. For comparison, Bennett played 934 defensive snaps last season (84.7 percent) in Seattle.
So we’re talking about Bennett’s being on the field for 30 percent fewer of his team’s defensive snaps. That’s obviously significant.
The 32-year-old defensive lineman admitted, “You always want to play more.”
“It think it’s always a test of character when you have to reinvent yourself and do something you’re not comfortable with or find some comfort in it when you’re uncomfortable,” Bennett said.
So how is Bennett handling that test of character?
“I mean, we’re 2-2 so the most important thing is not my individual stats or individual playing time,” Bennett said. “It’s really about the wins. Obviously, we want to be in a situation where we’re 4-0 or at least 3-1. For me, it’s just about winning. That’s the true test of character, how many Ws we can get.”
So maybe there was some truth to what Collinsworth said back in early September. Bennett would probably like to play more. But as long as he doesn’t become a problem in the locker room, he has a chance to stay fresh and help the Eagles’ defense climb out of a hole.