Was it shots fired? Or a misconstrued comment that was taken out of context? Either way, a never-shy Michael Bennett didn’t hold back when describing a former coach in a recent interview with The Athletic. Bennet, who signed with the Patriots in the offseason, was defending new head coach Bill Belichick while seeming to take a shot at someone, maybe Doug Pederson.
Bennett has missed the first three days of Patriots training camp due to personal reasons as he deals with an undisclosed issue at home. The Eagles shipped the 33-year-old defensive end to New England after he had hinted at wanting a new contract earlier in the offseason. Philadelphia received a fifth-round pick in 2020, along with a seventh-round pick in 2020. Bennett received a new home and new coach, one that has apparently been an improvement over his previous one.
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“It’s nice to have a coach who sees you as a human being,” Bennett told The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “When you have a boss that respects you like a man, it’s easy to go out and play for him. I think for me, it’s easy to look him in the eye and whatever he asks me to do, I’ll do it simply because he respects me as a human being. I respect that.”
Was the comment a direct shot at Eagles coach Doug Pederson? Bennett only spent one year with the Eagles and enjoyed his most productive season since 2015 after racking up a team-high 10 sacks. Bennett also played in Seattle for five seasons under fiery head coach Pete Carroll.
Michael Bennett Outperformed His Philly Contract
Bennett, who has tallied 63 sacks in his 10-year NFL career, was very vocal about restructuring his contract before starting the 2019 season. In an appearance back in March on NFL Network’s “Good Morning, Football,” Bennett came right out and said “we’re in a tough situation as far as the salary cap and I’m not willing to take a pay cut. I actually want a pay raise.”
The Eagles weren’t willing to budge and instantly completed a trade with the Patriots. There was a theory that Bennett wanted to be teammates with his brother, Martellus Bennett, but the tight end retired despite multiple reports he wanted to return to New England. Despite playing in the league simultaneously for the better part of nine seasons, the two brothers never donned the same uniform.
There were rumors of them combining forces prior to the 2018 season, but Michael went to Philadelphia instead. Martellus played in 18 regular-season games with New England over his final two years in the NFL — and he doesn’t seem interested in giving up his recreational marijuana habit to make a comeback.
Eagles Fans Rush to Doug Pederson’s Defense
The love for Doug Pederson is still in full bloom in Philadelphia, so predictably Eagles fans came rushing to the coach’s defense. Pederson is a “players coach” by all accounts, especially according to his former guys. Bryce Treggs, a former wide receiver who spent just one season under Pederson, recently was quoted as saying Pederson’s ability to stress the importance of a “family atmosphere” was the standard for which other NFL teams should strive for.
Bennett’s other former coach — Seahawks leader Pete Carroll — has sometimes been criticized for not completely respecting his players as human beings. Seattle has become a turnstile in recent years for elite athletes as the Seahawks have allowed several Pro Bowl players, like Bennett, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane, to leave in droves. Many on Twitter were quick to point Carroll out as the culprit.
In fact, Thomas famously gave Carroll the middle finger last year as he was being carted off the field after suffering a season-ending injury. Thomas knew he was probably done in Seattle at the time and inked a four-year, $55 million deal with the Ravens this offseason.