FRISCO, Texas – Kris Richard was asked to boil it down as specifically as possible.
Of all the abilities and character traits that Michael Bennett brings with him to the Cowboys, which one stands out at the top of the list?
“He understands excellence,” Richard said.
That much is evident. Bennett’s 65.5 sacks, 341 tackles and three Pro Bowl appearances speak for themselves. There’s also the larger part, which Richard was definitely alluding to.
When Richard and Bennett were together in Seattle, he was a regular starter for the most fearsome defense in the NFL, posting 15.5 sacks for those Seahawks defenses that appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls and won the league in 2013.
“He’s a champion,” Richard said. “His history, his playoff experience. What is it, 65 sacks now in however many years that he’s been in? Wherever he’s been, he’s had success.”
Bennett and Richard were together in Seattle for five years before they both departed following the 2017 season – one to Dallas, the other to Philadelphia. When he was approached about the possibility of acquiring Bennett last week, Richard didn’t hesitate.
“We were just sitting in the office one day, doing our normal preparation, and all of a sudden we get a call asking our thoughts and to take a look and would we be interested,” he said. “And yeah, we were chomping at the bit for that.”
The Cowboys are excited about Bennett’s versatility, and the expectation is that he’ll be able to play some end while also kicking inside to rush the passer from the under tackle position. He filled a similar role for the Eagles last season, tallying nine sacks – 3.5 of which came against Dak Prescott.
“I told him that the first time I saw him: ‘I’m glad you’re on this side so I don’t have to take those hits anymore,’” Prescott joked.
He’s only been in Texas for a few days, but it sounds like Bennett should be able to start dishing those hits out sooner rather than later. Thanks to that time spent with Richard, Bennett is very familiar with what the Cowboys want from him – and Richard said he’s already up to speed.
“We’re looking forward to him getting out there and having a great impact,” Richard said. “He’s very familiar with our system and he’s already intelligent. It’s not as if there’s going to be very much that we can throw at him that he won’t be able to pick up.”
Adding a pass rusher of that pedigree could do wonders for a front that already features Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys’ pass rush boasts tons of talent, but they’re currently flagging far behind the league pace with 17 sacks on the season.
If Bennett can help boost those numbers, it’ll go a long way toward helping the Cowboys’ defense. Knowing that, perhaps that’s why Richard is focused less on what he’s already accomplished with Bennett, and more on what they could accomplish in the future.
“The history of it, it’s really cool,” he said. “But I think what he understands, and obviously what I understand is it’s not about what has been. It’s about what will be. We have a job to do here.”