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Bengals1181
06-16-2014, 08:22 PM
http://a1.fssta.com/content/dam/fsdigital/RSN/Ohio/2013/12/29/122913-FSO-NFL-BengalsBurfict-PI.vadapt.620.medium.0.jpg

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports
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.


CINCINNATI (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/cincinnati-bengals/67041) -- The art of tackling is a football essential. If you can't tackle, the opposing team tends to score a lot of points against you.
Duh.
No one in the NFL made more tackles last season than Vontaze Burfict (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/1346992/1346992). TheBengals (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/cincinnati-bengals/67041) linebacker made 171 tackles by the official count of the league statisticians. Coaches like to keep their own count after watching film. They usually tend to be a little more generous in the tackling totals. Burfict's coaches credited him with 204 stops.
Regardless of the number, the player who two years ago at this time was considered too radioactive to touch by nearly everyone in the NFL except for Marvin Lewis, is now a leader of one of the best defenses in the league. Burfict is an every-down linebacker who can stuff running backs, cover them out of the backfield and drop into coverage against tight ends and wide receivers alike.
There are players in the league like Pittsburgh's (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/pittsburgh-steelers/67067) Troy Polamalu (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/troy-polamalu/140433) who could be lined up anywhere on the field on a given play and wreak havoc. Quarterbacks have to find them. Quarterbacks won't have to look long to find Burfict. The Bengals don't hide him. They don't move him around all that much. Just because you know where he's at doesn't mean you've got an advantage on Burfict.
"He's a guy who is really instinctive. He has that trait so he can see stuff before it happens a lot of times," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/andy-dalton/1268786), who faces Burfict daily in practice. "People don't give him credit for how smart he is. He understands what offenses are trying to do, and then when he plays with the edge that he does he has all of the traits you want in a starting 'backer."




The Bengals began their final week of OTA practices Monday. Head coach Marvin Lewis closed up the practice with a stern message to the team followed up by some wind sprints.
"We needed a little bit of a reminder of what it's going to be like and what's important," said Lewis. "I think that we want to remind them we don't to be complacent at any point. We can't be complacent, we can't be average; we have to make sure we keep working. We keep doing the little things correct and moving forward with them. We can't go sideways at any point."

It's a message that gets delivered every now and then on the practice field, a message that is a constant in the meeting rooms and one that the players have learned to police themselves, said Burfict. He is just entering his third season but he is one of the senior members in the linebacker room. Rey Maualuga (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/rey-maualuga/638325) has the most experience with five previous seasons. Vinny Rey will be heading into his fifth season with the team.
Then comes Burfict.

Gone from last season's group are James Harrison (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/james-harrison/114761) and Michael Boley (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/player/michael-boley/300353), guys who might not have played an abundance of snaps but were a veteran presence in the locker room. Even if their previous experience hadn't been with the Bengals and how then-defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and then-linebackers coach Paul Guenther ran their rooms, they quickly caught on.

Burfict's style of play €“--seek and destroy--€“ is reminiscent of Harrison in his prime.

"I don'€™t necessarily think it was because James was here but it was more about Tez getting comfortable," said Dalton. "He wasn't a rookie last year so he's kind of coming into his own. I think it was very similar to how James was for all of those years in Pittsburgh.

"Tez is definitely a guy you want on your team."

Burfict isn't afraid to be a presence. He wants to be a star, not for the limelight but what it means for the team. He was named to his first Pro Bowl last season as well as the AP All-Pro second-team. The Cincinnati (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/cincinnati-bengals/67041) chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America named Burfict the Bengals MVP. His next step is to take what has already been a considerable level of play, not by just himself but the entire defense, and find a way to raise it.

"To me, (leadership) means taking a team to where it's never been before," said Burfict. "I lead by example. Know the playbook in and out. When the coach calls my name I've got to be answering right. All of it is about taking a team to the Super Bowl. I think that defines a leader. There are multiple ways but I think that's my way of defining a leader."

Zimmer may now be the head coach in Minnesota but with Guenther calling the shots as the defensive coordinator there won't be many changes to the basic philosophy of the defense. It's layered. The defensive line plays run-first, then get after the passer. If the linemen are occupying blockers, that frees up linebackers to make their plays. The cornerbacks are expected to play a lot of man coverages and the safeties have to be versatile enough to play not just in the deep third but wherever needed.

It's a system that has led to the Bengals being ranked in the top seven of NFL defenses in four of the past five seasons.

Matt Burke is the new linebackers coach for the Bengals. He spent the past five seasons with Detroit. He's still just getting to know this new group of players but he's been well aware of Burfict from when he scouted Burfict at Arizona State.

"I think I erased all of my scouting notes on him," said Burke. "Everyone is familiar with the story and how that went down. Obviously there were 32 teams that passed on him and we (Lions (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/detroit-lions/67045)) were one of them. I can't hide that fact but it's been great to see, even from afar, I always respect and appreciate players who come up from whatever circumstances they are under."

Burfict has made a lot of people erase their scouting notes.

"As an outsider coming in, you know that you don'€™t have 170-some tackles without getting to the ball. That speaks to his effort level," said Burke. "But he does it within the system. He does it within the scheme. He knows when he can take a shot at coming under a block or when he has to cross face. He always gets to the ball but he's not guessing. A lot of times guys will take shots and guess and that puts them out of position.
"His effort level, his intensity and his want to getting to the ball is there but he's also doing it in the right sort of format. He's rarely out of position."

The playoff loss to San Diego still stings. So much has been made of how Dalton and offense didn't play its best, to say the least, but a defense that built its persona on being more physical than the opponent and often times setting the table for the offense got pushed around by the Chargers (http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/san-diego-chargers/67068) in the second half.

"It leaves a bad taste and makes you work hard in the offseason but nobody brings it up," said Burfict of the loss. "We just come in each day to get better and understand the defense. Coach G (Guenther) was telling us that like the Spurs and how they won (the NBA Finals). They're not the greatest athletically but they know their system. If everybody knows the system --€“ d ends, safeties, corners, backups if anyone goes down -- if everyone knows the system you don't have to have the greatest athleticism. Because we have so many people that are athletic and competitive, our backups are, and if we all know the system we can't be beat."

http://msn.foxsports.com/ohio/story/burfict-ready-for-new-role-for-bengals-061614

mongo
06-16-2014, 11:00 PM
Belichick has built his teams around the militaristic belief in units without faces, and systems over freelance. You didn't have to be the best, you just had to know and trust the system completely... Never try to do more or less than your job, and good things happen.

Bengals1181
06-17-2014, 07:09 AM
Belichick has built his teams around the militaristic belief in units without faces, and systems over freelance. You didn't have to be the best, you just had to know and trust the system completely... Never try to do more or less than your job, and good things happen.

I've seen many a high school, college and pro team win championships by not necessarily being the most talented team, but by having a solid system in place and having players who are committed to that system.

Bengals1181
06-19-2014, 10:55 AM
Paul Guenther blitzing more is good news for Vontaze Burfict


http://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/34544173/151012629.0_standard_709.0.jpg
With Mike Zimmer now at the helm of the Minnesota Vikings (http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/teams/minnesota-vikings), the Bengals (http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/teams/cincinnati-bengals) will now rely on Paul Guenther to coordinate their defense in 2014. He's got a big pair of shoes to fill, but he was groomed by Zimmer to eventually get his role, and the Bengals wasted little time naming him the DC once Zimmer departed.As for the defense, Geoff Hobson believes that Guenther will be blitzing more than his predecessor (http://www.bengals.com/news/article-1/Hobsons-Choice-Taylor-made-roster/65f7da74-b6ae-4e83-b38d-ddc41e5115eb).




On defense, the sense is that new coordinator Paul Guenther is going to blitz more than Mike Zimmer. Guenther’s passion is finding matchups the offense can’t counter. But other than that, you’ve got 10 starters back in the same system for the third-ranked defense. Just tweak it.

So how exactly could the Bengals blitz more while remaining efficient and not giving up a ton of big-plays?
Under Zimmer, one position that never got a lot of production in terms of pass-rushing was linebacker. Using Vontaze Burfict (http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/players/155361/vontaze-burfict) to blitz more could change that.
Per Pro Football Focus (https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/by_player.php?tab=by_player&season=2013&surn=Burfict&playerid=7280&pre=REG), Burfict was credited with five quarterback hits, nine hurries, and 64 defensive snaps in 2013. He did that in just 85 pass-rush snaps, giving him a 14.7 'Pass Rushing Productivity (https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/signature.php?tab=signature&season=2013&stype=r&pos=4op&teamid=-1&filter=25)' rating by PFF.
That was the 21st-best out of 55 linebackers who blitzed last season, and the 10th-best out 30 backer who played in at least 23% of their team's snaps.
If Guenther was to make this defense harder to plan for, he needs to bring pressure from the linebackers more than Zimmer did.
To be fair though, Burfict was the best coverage backer the Bengals had last year, In 2013, Burfict's 11.8 pass coverage grade (https://www.profootballfocus.com/data/cstats.php?tab=by_team&season=2013&teamid=7&stats=d&stype=r&pre=REG&playerid=) was the best on the Bengals defense. The next best by a backer was Vincent Rey's 3.2 grade. James Harrison (cut this offseason) was next at 1.5.
Obviously, the Bengals don't want to take Burfict out of coverage too much, but that could change with Emmanuel Lamur now back and healthy. Lamur was touted as the best coverage linebacker the Bengals had going into the 2013 season, but a torn shoulder labrum in the preseason finale cost him the entire season.
Having Lamur and/or Rey drop into coverage while Burfict blitzes could be something we see a lot of in 2014.

http://www.cincyjungle.com/2014/6/19/5818936/paul-guenther

mongo
06-19-2014, 10:39 PM
I think Nelson has done well when blitzing, too.

Bengals1181
08-01-2014, 09:24 AM
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict emerges as center of Bengals defense, becoming leader in 3rd season
CINCINNATI — Linebacker Vontaze Burfict has gone from low-risk investment to the heart of the Bengals defense in only two years.


Cincinnati thinks so much of its Pro Bowl linebacker that it's molding one of the league's best defenses around him in only his third season. And coach Marvin Lewis, who has craved a leader in the style of former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, thinks he has one in the making.


"I thought Vontaze had those qualities really early on," Lewis said. "He was one of the best players I had seen after his first practice. I told him he was going to be a very good player. He's not disappointed me.
"He has the ingredients of what a great NFL player for a period of time can be. They're innate to him."


Nobody doubted his instincts. It's the other stuff that's held him back.


Burfict was a dazzling linebacker at Arizona State, but let his emotions get in the way. He was repeatedly penalized and disciplined for personal fouls. A low point was a 2010 game when Burfict head-butted Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz (http://www.tribtown.com/search/person/6a3c7778efe544369abbddf516483d58). Later, he was benched during a game for getting two personal fouls in the first half.


After a poor showing at the 2012 NFL combine, Burfict was tagged as a high risk, an extremely gifted player who wouldn't listen to coaches or keep his emotions under control.


Nobody drafted him. The Bengals signed him as a free agent. By the end of his rookie season, he was a starter making an impact.


Last season, he led the team in tackles 12 times, was honored as the AFC's defensive player of the week for a 15-tackle performance against Cleveland that included a fumble return for a touchdown, and made his first Pro Bowl.


Everyone could see that the defense had a new leader on the field, even though Burfict doesn't consider himself the main one.


"Everybody on this defense thinks of himself as a leader," Burfict said after practice on Thursday. "At the end of the day, I'm just worried about all 11 getting lined up and getting to the ball. I'm not worried about who's watching me, making sure I do it right.


"I'm relentless to the ball and hopefully the others on the field are the same way."


Quarterback Andy Dalton (http://www.tribtown.com/search/person/a7bee8e664e6402cb0403d266e455fbb) has watched Burfict lead the defense during practices with his passionate play.
"Just the way that he plays speaks for itself, but he's also a guy who's really vocal, who gets guys to play up to his level," Dalton said. "And that's exactly what you want from your starting linebacker."


New defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is working on getting more pressure on the quarterback this season. Burfict plays outside linebacker in their base defense, inside linebacker in their other formations. He's put a lot of responsibility on Burfict to make the right calls before the snap.


Asked how close the defense is to being built around Burfict, Guenther said, "Pretty close."


Guenther has worked with Burfict to try to harness his emotions rather than letting them get the better of him. Last season, Burfict got six penalties for unnecessary roughness.


And it wasn't only opponents that can rile him. As a rookie, Burfict would get upset with a teammate for a mistake.


"He's so competitive that he would get mad at guys," Guenther said. "I said, 'Look, you can't do that because now that's going to set him off, which is going to set a fire.' I really worked on his leadership abilities and how to go about it in different ways."


Former Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes (http://www.tribtown.com/search/person/65a7c5f07dd74e1481d266117f78246a) watched practice on Thursday as part of his work for a radio show preview of the team's season. Spikes was a leader of the defense during his playing career and thinks that Burfict can grow into the role so long as he accepts the responsibility that comes with it.


"We all knew the troubles he went through early, but now it's him staying straight, having the accountability to not only the coaches but to teammates because they're watching you every day," Spikes said.

http://www.tribtown.com/view/story/90768d66216f452cb2ba207eb091750f/FBN--Bengals-Burfict-Emerges

Bengals1181
08-04-2014, 08:57 AM
Burfict emerges for Bengals



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Tom Uhlman
Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict celebrates after the Bengals sacked Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)



By Joe Kay
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI —
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict has gone from low-risk investment to the heart of the Bengals defense in only two years.
Cincinnati thinks so much of its Pro Bowl linebacker that it’s molding one of the league’s best defenses around him in only his third season. And coach Marvin Lewis, who has craved a leader in the style of former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, thinks he has one in the making.
“I thought Vontaze had those qualities really early on,” Lewis said. “He was one of the best players I had seen after his first practice. I told him he was going to be a very good player. He’s not disappointed me.
“He has the ingredients of what a great NFL player for a period of time can be. They’re innate to him.”
Nobody doubted his instincts. It’s the other stuff that’s held him back.
Burfict was a dazzling linebacker at Arizona State, but let his emotions get in the way. He was repeatedly penalized and disciplined for personal fouls. A low point was a 2010 game when Burfict head-butted Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz. Later, he was benched during a game for getting two personal fouls in the first half.
After a poor showing at the 2012 NFL combine, Burfict was tagged as a high risk, an extremely gifted player who wouldn’t listen to coaches or keep his emotions under control.
Nobody drafted him. The Bengals signed him as a free agent. By the end of his rookie season, he was a starter making an impact.
Last season, he led the team in tackles 12 times, was honored as the AFC’s defensive player of the week for a 15-tackle performance against Cleveland that included a fumble return for a touchdown, and made his first Pro Bowl.
Everyone could see that the defense had a new leader on the field, even though Burfict doesn’t consider himself the main one.
“Everybody on this defense thinks of himself as a leader,” Burfict said after practice on Thursday. “At the end of the day, I’m just worried about all 11 getting lined up and getting to the ball. I’m not worried about who’s watching me, making sure I do it right.
“I’m relentless to the ball and hopefully the others on the field are the same way.”
Quarterback Andy Dalton has watched Burfict lead the defense during practices with his passionate play.
“Just the way that he plays speaks for itself, but he’s also a guy who’s really vocal, who gets guys to play up to his level,” Dalton said. “And that’s exactly what you want from your starting linebacker.”
New defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is working on getting more pressure on the quarterback this season. Burfict plays outside linebacker in their base defense, inside linebacker in their other formations. He’s put a lot of responsibility on Burfict to make the right calls before the snap.
Asked how close the defense is to being built around Burfict, Guenther said, “Pretty close.”
Guenther has worked with Burfict to try to harness his emotions rather than letting them get the better of him. Last season, Burfict got six penalties for unnecessary roughness.
And it wasn’t only opponents that can rile him. As a rookie, Burfict would get upset with a teammate for a mistake.
“He’s so competitive that he would get mad at guys,” Guenther said. “I said, ‘Look, you can’t do that because now that’s going to set him off, which is going to set a fire.’ I really worked on his leadership abilities and how to go about it in different ways.”
Former Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes watched practice on Thursday as part of his work for a radio show preview of the team’s season. Spikes was a leader of the defense during his playing career and thinks that Burfict can grow into the role so long as he accepts the responsibility that comes with it.
“We all knew the troubles he went through early, but now it’s him staying straight, having the accountability to not only the coaches but to teammates because they’re watching you every day,” Spikes said.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/sports/football/burfict-emerges-for-bengals/ngtDt/