Bucs’ Defense Has All-Around Weapon in Bennett

The San Diego Chargers have a very balanced offense, with three running backs over 100 yards and six different pass-catchers in triple digits.  QB Philip Rivers is completing 66.5% of his passes and has both thrown the ball downfield (WRs Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem are both over 15 yards per catch) and completed more passes to his running backs than any other quarterback in the league.

“They do have weapons, and when you look at them, Philip makes it all go,” said Tampa Bay Head Coach Greg Schiano on the morning of Sunday’s Bucs-Chargers game at Raymond James Stadium. “When I look at them, I see a balanced offense, so they’re going to run the football, they’re going to throw the football, they’re going to play action, and you need to play ‘rules’ defense.  Because if you start leaning too heavily one way or another they’re going to get you.”

Fortunately, the Buccaneers have one of the NFL’s most underrated two-way defenders on their side of the line of scrimmage.  Defensive end Michael Bennett leads Tampa Bay’s defense with 6.0 sacks and is also one of the league’s best D-Linemen in terms of stopping the run, according to some interesting metrics on sites like FootballOutsiders.com and ProFootballFocus.com.

Bennett could become the first Buccaneer since Simeon Rice in 2005 to reach double digits in sacks in a single season, but he’s also a force on obvious rushing plays.  Since the Chargers rank 22nd in the league in sacks allowed per pass play and 19th in rushing yards per game, it appears as if there is room for Bennett to have another outstanding outing in Week 10.

“He’s been good both in the run game and in the pass game,” said Schiano.  “He’s had negative plays, TFLs in the run game and he’s been able to affect the passer.  It’s not only the sacks and the sack-fumbles, but it’s affecting the passer, getting him off the spot, altering throws with your hand up.  He’s done all of those kinds of things, and I think now quarterbacks are aware of him, which is another thing that affects them, even coming into the game.  If he can do those things today, that’s going to help us play good pass defense as well as good run defense.”

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