The 2012 season is one quarter in the books, and few Buccaneers had a September as productive as Michael Bennett. Bennett had four sacks and two forced fumbles in the first four games, and some interesting metrics from Football Outsiders suggest he was outstanding against the run, as well.
Bennett is “on pace” for 16 sacks this season, but that’s a particularly aggressive prediction considering the single-season team record is 16.5 (Warren Sapp, 2000). No one would actually suggest after one month that Bennett is a good bet to approach that record, but if he’s going to get anywhere close – perhaps post the Bucs’ first double-digit sack season since 2005 (Simeon Rice, 14.0) – he’ll need to have three more quarters as good as the first.
That just happens to be the same message that Bennett is preaching for his team as a whole. The fourth-year lineman says the young Buccaneers were “humbled” a bit by their 1-3 record before the bye week, mostly because they had trouble closing out potential victories. Tampa Bay had fourth-quarter leads in two of their three September losses, and in the other one they twice pulled within six points in the final period.
Bennett expects the Bucs, who were the NFL’s sixth-youngest team on opening day (average age of 25.69 years old) to continue to improve under their first-year head coach, Greg Schiano.
“We’re a young team and we’re just trying to grow as a team,” he said. “A lot of bad things happened that we should have been ready for. As the season goes on, we’re trying to learn and just grow, basically. That’s all we need to do – grow and learn how to win every game and every quarter. Not play three good quarters or two good quarters but all of us play four good quarters.”