Cincinnati Bengals Spotlight: Vontaze Burfict
Nov 17, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) reacts during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
If you have spent any time on Stripe Hype, you know how high I am on Vontaze Burfict’s success as a player. Burfict went from being a 1st round draft pick out of Arizona State and being compared to Ray Lewis to Undrafted Free Agent signed by the Bengals in 2012. As talk’s progress between the Bengals and Vontaze Burfict, we take a look back at his contributions over the past 2 seasons.
Burfict has been a large part of the Bengals defense especially in 2013, both in the run and pass. In 2 seasons, he has had 298 combined tackles and just last season had 3 sacks, 1 interception, 6 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble. He led the NFL in combined tackles last season and was voted to his first pro bowl.
Burfict arose as the defensive leader when Geno Atkins went down for the season, but the question remains, how will this defense evolve without Mike Zimmer at the helm?
The answer may sit with their head coach, Marvin Lewis, and new defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther. Guenther was previously the line backers coach and responsible for the success and growth of this linebacker core. This is key because Burfict has responded to what this coaching staff has asked and expected.
Burfict also benefited from another former undrafted free agent last season. He got to work side by side with James Harrison, which showed an immediate impact and improvement over what he did during the 2012 season.
Harrison may be gone and Zimmer has moved on but the basic structure is still there. The talent is great and look to Burfict to continue his leadership role under Guenther and beside Atkins, once Geno returns this season.