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Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict Heart And Soul Of Defense.


More than half the season remains, but Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict already has 74 tackles. Most defensive

players wish they could have that many stops in a single season.

But there Burfict is, already on pace to surpass the 127 tackles he had in 16 games as a rookie last season. If he keeps up his current pace of roughly 10.5 tackles a game, Burfict will end the year with 159. That’s a crzay stat.

That said, numbers are numbers  particularly the ones concerning tackles and Burfict tries his hardest to avoid seeing them, all he cares about is winning and helping the team at all cause.

Whether he hits 127 again or jumps to 159, Burfict has been a true tackling machine, and he’s played well.

Burfict fell into the Bengals lap after the 2012 draft in some measure because he had scared off so many teams because of his undisciplined actions that famously racked up 16 personal fouls in 26 games at Arizona State. Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer knows everyone is walking a line and he admitted he’s had to remind Burfict as recently as this month not to cross that path again.

That’s what the league told the club Burfict was doing in Buffalo two weeks ago on two of his three personal fouls. He had an facemask in there, but the league told the club last week that upon further review his tackle on a diving quarterback Thaddeus Lewis of the Buffalo Bills and his hit over the middle while the ball was still being juggled shouldn’t have been called.

Even before the NFL corrected itself the Bengals thought it was a good idea to follow Burfict’s lead. Zimmer counseled him before the season that he should take more of a leadership role of the defense. He also warned him about NFL notoriety and not to fall back into the ways of Arizona State.

Zimmer and head coach Marvin Lewis have been huge factors in Burfict’s improbable transition from off the draft board to Rookie of the Year candidate to a likely Pro Bowl season. Lewis connected with him during the draft process and Zimmer has tapped the potential.