Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts after a play as Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) celebrates during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Bennett is one of only a select few Tampa Bay Buccaneers to eclipse nine sacks in a season in franchise history in 2012. But for whatever reason, the Buccaneers did not bring Bennett back in 2013, instead opting to rely on Da’Quan Bowers (a Dominik draft pick who had yet to reach full potential) and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (a “Schiano man” who played with a ton of effort, but not a lot of pure talent).
Now that Schiano and Dominik are gone, and Bennett is playing for an NFC Championship with the Seahawks, it’s clear that the worst lasting effect of Schiano and Dominik’s time in Tampa Bay will be players who went on to succeed in other places while the Buccaneers habitually lost games.
No player personifies that fact more than Bennett.
After leaving town, Bennett opened up to Mike Silver of NFL Media, telling him about how life was under Schiano in Tampa Bay. And even though there were rumors that Bennett might have returned to Tampa, he took a one-year deal in Seattle and has proven to be more than a one-year wonder.
Schiano’s stubborn style and personality conflicts with certain players helped keep the middle and bottom of the Tampa Bay roster thinner than it should have been. Key players will always sign for a big paycheck, but the role players and young hopefuls can’t afford to risk spending time under a bad coach on a bad team, or they may never get another chance in the NFL.
Bennett was an unheralded and undrafted player himself, but worked his way into being one of the most sought after defensive ends in free agency. But even he couldn’t risk spending another year in Tampa, instead opting to go to a winning organization in Seattle.
It’s possible that Mark Dominik simply short-changed Bennett and he left to get more money, as well. But considering Bennett’s comments, it’s safe to say his preference was to find a better environment in which to work.
Luckily for Buccaneer fans, they now have one of the most respected coaches in the NFL on the sideline, and players will consider Tampa Bay as a more desirable destination in the future.
One of those players might even be free agent defensive end Michael Bennett.