After naming Paul Guenther as the new defensive coordinator, the Cincinnati Bengals filled his vacant spot as the linebackers coach by hiring away Matt Burke from the Detroit Lions.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 18, 2014
There, he assembled one of the best 1-2 punches at LB with MLB Stephen Tulloch and OLB DeAndre Levy, and his unit helped lead a Lions defense that ranked sixth in the NFL against the run in 2013.
“We’re fortunate to get a coach of Matt’s quality and experience to move into this spot,” Marvin Lewis said in a news release. “Matt has come up under the system of Jim Schwartz, starting with Jim at the Tennessee Titans and then moving on when Jim got the head coaching job at Detroit. He was one of Jim’s hand-picked guys, and I think most people know how much I respect Jim as a friend and colleague.
“Matt did great work with developing the young linebackers at Detroit, and he brings ideas and perspective from another system, which is something great for us to have as a staff.”
Levy had the best season of his career both in coverage and against the run, and he played at a Pro Bowl level. He had career highs in tackles (119), solo tackles (85) and interceptions (6) this season, and those 6 picks were the most of any LB in the league.
Tulloch, the eighth-leading tackler in the NFL (135), finished the year with a career-high 3.5 sacks, and his 135 stops were the second most he’s notched in a single-season in his 8-year career.
Getting to work with Vontaze Burfict should be a treat for him, and he along with Guenther should be able to maximize the production the team gets from their young corps of LBs.
That’s assuming Emmanuel Lamur and Sean Porter are able to return from season-ending injuries in the preseason n next year, along with the team hopefully re-signing Vincent Rey after his breakout season.
Lamur was essentially a starter in nickle defenses, as his coverage ability was the best of any Bengals LB. Porter was a rookie fourth-round pick expected to contribute his rookie year.
And with youth, there’s also veteran experience with James Harrison and Rey Maualuga. Not to mention two other youngsters in Jayson DiManche and J.K. Schaffer.
There’s a lot of youth in this LB unit, and the Bengals hired the right man to ensure they reach their full potential.