Yesterday was a tough pill to swallow for the Bengals, as they watched a 1-3 Dolphins team that many had pegged as one the NFL’s worst teams coming into 2012, walk out of Paul Brown Stadium with an improbable win that severely damaged the Bengals hopes of making a return trip to the playoffs for the first time in over two decades. Yet not everything was doom and gloom, as the teams’ promising rookie weakside linebacker, Vontaze Burfict, continues to improve on a weekly basis. Against the Dolphins, Burfict played every snap (66) while recording seven tackles, one QB hit, one fumble recovery, and finished with a +2.2 grade from Pro Football Focus, the second-best defensive performance of the day behind Geno Atkins.
After a disastrous junior campaign at Arizona State, topped off by a failed drug test for marijuana and a bad scouting combine performance, Burfict went undrafted before signing with the Bengals after a previous relationship with Head Coach Marvin Lewis led the team to pursue the troubled but talented player.
In a resent radio interview, Burfict reiterate how much Lewis has done for him in helping him turn his life around after it looked as though he had destroyed his NFL career before it ever began.
It’s been a good journey, since I’ve been under Marvin Lewis’ wing. He took me in and he coaches me how I need to be coached. If I mess up twice on one play that he already told me about, he gets to me. He starts yelling at me. But that’s what I need. … I love being under his wing because he talks to me like I’m a grown man and he understands you’re not supposed to always yell at a player. Sometimes I need to be yelled at.
He was later asked if he wished Lewis had been his coach in college at Arizona State, to which he replied:
Yes, of course. I could be a totally different player, I think.
I blame a lot of what happened yesterday on Marv, but he’s a good man who just wants what’s best for his players. In a sport that’s been corrupted with coaches who jump from job to job in search of the biggest contract, the most glory, and the most stability, its nice to see a coach who is more about his players than himself. While Lewis Deserves blame, give him credit for reviving the promising football career of Vontze Burfict.