Vontaze Burfict has turned out to be one of the pleasant surprises of this NFL season, an undrafted rookie who was widely regarded as a head case coming out of college but has now become a productive starter for the Bengals. And Burfict says Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is the biggest reason for his turnaround.
“It’s been a good journey, since I’ve been under Marvin Lewis’ wing,” Burfict said on XTRA in Phoenix, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “He took me in and he coaches me how I need to be coached. If I mess up twice on one play that he already told me about, he gets to me. He starts yelling at me. But that’s what I need. . . . I love being under his wing because he talks to me like I’m a grown man.”
Although Burfict said he has respect for his college coach at Arizona State, Dennis Erickson, he added that Erickson wasn’t getting the most out of him the way Lewis does.
“I let Coach Erickson’s coaching mess with me on the field and it totally messed with my head, especially on the field,” Burfict said. “Like the bowl game I was benched, and the whole week I thought I was going to be able to play. So it was just little things that me and coach didn’t see eye-to-eye on.”
Whatever Lewis is doing, it’s working. In April, Burfict was written off as non-draftable. Now he’s starting and playing well for the Bengals.