While many will look at Vontaze Burficts’ 15 tackles against the Steelers on Sunday as a sign of improvement for the rookie, it was actually a step back. As noted by Pro Football Focus, Burfict has had trouble shedding blocks when opposing blockers are able to get their hands on him:
The season-long narrative of poor play from Bengals linebackers continued Sunday, though this time it added LB Vontaze Burfict (-1.6) to the mix. The undrafted free agent had been showing steady improvement throughout the season and this game, despite 15 total tackles, was slight step back. It wasn’t all bad as Burfict was active in the running game with seven stops, five of which came from his knifing through traffic unblocked. The problem was when offensive linemen got their hands on him, either at the point of attack or at the second level, he was generally taken out of the play.
Fear not, as fantasy football doesn’t keep track of how well you can shed blocks, as long as you rack up the tackles:
After Marvin Jones suffered a sprained MCL on the opening kickoff Sunday night and was left walking on crutches the past few days, he and head coach Marvin Lewis claimed that despite the 3-4 week injury timetable, Jones has a chance to return next week vs. the Denver Broncos.
Third-string RB Brian Leonard on the rehab field yesterday as he continues to recover from a rib injury, and he believes he’s got a good shot at playing next week after missing the past two games.
While the Bengals get some much needed reprieve from their bye-week in the midst of a three-game losing streak which has all but demolished any chances of making the postseason, Jay Gruden knows the next few weeks will be pivotal in fixing his offensive unit which all of the sudden is average at-best:
What a difference a week makes, a month makes, a season makes in careers and lives in this business. You just have to keep doing what you’re doing, just got to do a better job of getting players in the right spots and coaching better. We’ve got to take players who are not quite ready and make them ready. We’ve got to take the great players and utilize them the best way we can.