Bengals: Old School Mentor Brings Discipline To Young D

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Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Javorius Allen (37) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. The bengals won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Javorius Allen (37) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. The bengals won 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals have been labeled as “thugs,” in the past. But, this year Bengals faithful could see a new breed of warriors take the field.

Unless you’ve been under a boulder, you know that the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense is a beast. The unit performed at a record-setting pace, last season. Bengals’ brass was able to keep the core of the fearsome D intact. A wild and crazy free agency period caused the loss of a few productive players. Reggie Nelson and Wallace Gilberry moved on to “greener” pastures. But, the defense gained bodies that will be a perfect fit for the system. 

He’s really smart, really instinctive. I think that gets him into trouble at times.

The roster is filled with promising young players that will both surprise and disappoint many fans. That’s the beauty of the game. There’s a learning curve that must be honored, before moving to greatness. Once players are taught the proper ways to execute their jobs, the rest falls into place. Yet, there has to be a coach and mentor to guide that process.

Linebackers coach Jim Haslett is a storehouse of knowledge. He’ll help bring throwback football to Bengals’ faithful. In an era that has many fans thinking football has gone soft, Haslett will be a breath of fresh air. He’s been dubbed “Old School” by the players. But the wisdom he brings is invaluable.

When youngsters think of older adults, the image isn’t pretty. What’s a hot Saturday night? They usually picture a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Top that off with a stroll through Home Depot for wallpaper and flooring. The comparisons go on and get worse.

What can Haslett bring to the Bengals? Focus, discipline and a change of attitude. There’s a difference between being a throwback and dirty football. Bengals fans were rightfully livid, when the national media labeled Cincinnati as highly penalized thugs. Actually, the Orange and Black was ranked in the bottom third. Per SportingCharts, the Bengals were ranked No. 23, with 40 penalties. Doesn’t really sound like a bunch of hooligans.  

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Haslett was known for being a hard-nosed, no-nonsense type player. But he did kick Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw in the head. Does he regret it? Yes. Is it a badge of honor for Bengals fans? Double Yes. Anything related to Pittsburgh Steelers futility ranks high on the “That’s What’s Up” scale. Haslett has been brought in to rein in the temper—not the passion—of Vontaze Burfict.

Burfict is a Haslett clone. His coach understands the dilemma of playing smart versus a dumb move. Per Cincinnati Bengals, Old School described his pupil.

"“He’s really smart, really instinctive. I think that gets him into trouble at times. He’s an active player. He understands the game. He loves the game. I think what gets him in trouble is he sees the game too fast at times. He reacts to things that he thinks he can get away with sometimes, but that he’s not going to get away with nowadays.”"

Coach Haslett has embraced the fact that people (i.e., zebras) see Burfict and “assume” he’ll hurt someone. He’s a powerful guy. Training camp will be the proving grounds for a new approach. Players will execute under control.

That’s the beauty of the past. Those lessons bring understanding. Old School philosophy could also usher a championship D to Houston.

Next: AFC North: The Battle

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