Playing well in Cincinnati, Vontaze Burfict thankful for Marvin Lewis


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 “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.

27 responses to “Playing well in Cincinnati, Vontaze Burfict thankful for Marvin Lewis

  1. Now if only Maualuga could be coached to actually do something positive on the field, instead of running around like a chicken with his head cut off. 90% of plays he is nowhere near the ball, takes awful angles, dismal in pass coverage, and just an all around bust… and on top of it all, he is the MLB!! QB of the defense! Ugh…

  2. It’s always nice when a guy is a solid fit for a system and works under a coach that gets him. Sometimes I wonder how many talents are wasted in the NFL because they don’t find the proper home.

  3. Good to see a guy try to turn things around and get his head on straight this early. Now let’s see if it sticks.

  4. The problem is that coaches at all levels try to play this “head game” crap with players. If a player is bad, just tell him he’s bad. If a player is under performing, just tell him he’s under performing and not living up to expectations. Coaches need to communicate with players and be open about where they stand. Marvin Lewis knows how to be straight-forward with red flag players and move them in the right direction.

  5. If an NFL coach has special interpersonal skills, like Marvin Lewis and others [Greg Schiano…NOT!] then often those predictions of players’ potential based on their conduct in college become misleading; because there are just SO many factors that may cause this bad behavior, including a ‘poisoned’ dynamic with his college coach. The Management Team that does the extra interview, the extra research, the deeper analysis…often significantly benefits in the long-run.

  6. None of us Arizona State fans are surprised. His talent was never an issue, only his head and if he had the right influences in the NFL. He does in Marvin Lewis.

  7. I’ve heard comments about Maualugas play (or lack of) for a while and thought it was unfounded.
    ….NOT SO. I’ve intentional followed his play this year and I am amazed this guy is in the NFL. Just like Fink said “all around bust” FYI, I’m a huge Bengal fan.

  8. I have countless long posts on another board begging for the Lions to draft him, definitely not undraftable, rather one of those most exciting prospects in the draft for strategic value since most everybody else doesn’t appreciate this guy.

  9. Dennis Erickson had that same effect on most of the players he “coached” at ASU.

    Good to see Vontaze be able to rise above it.

  10. When Dennis Erickson, perhaps known as the college coach who exerts theleast amount of “control” over or “disciplines” his players, benches you, you know you’re borderline uncoachable.

    That makes Marvin Lewis’ work with Burfict all the more impressive.

  11. undrafted free agent…Let’s see what happens if he gets some real cash in his pocket and he starts feelin’ himself a little more.

  12. Great example of character issues being blown out of proportion. News flash: Not everyone has fully matured by the time they are 20. Sometimes it takes nearly losing everything for someone to realize the opportunities they have been blessed with.

    I for one am rooting for him, if for nothing else it will make ESPN draft “experts” look even more clueless than they already do.

  13. It’s interesting being a Bengals “fan.” Watching them lose yesterday to the Dolphins, I came to a realization: I am no longer excited when they score. I’m no longer angry when they do something stupid. Instead I just sit there, in a stupor, wondering what I’m doing with my life. Being a Bengals fan is like one big cosmic joke. They’re not consistently bad enough (like, say, the Browns) that you have no hope. Instead, they play just well enough sometimes to keep you thinking that maybe, just maybe, they’ll succeed. Time and time again, they prove themselves to be a joke. I’ve been watching them for 20 years now. It’s the same thing, year after year. Why do I keep doing this to myself?

  14. Knew there would be Maualuga comments in here. He’s just not been up to snuff. I can only imagine how much worse our LB play would be this year if we hadn’t snagged Burfict.


  15. I just got Sunday Ticket this year for the first time because I have a newborn as of 2 weeks ago and will be doin a lot of sittin around on the couch this season so I figure, why not watch my Bengals in the process… The ONE thing that’s stood out to me on defense thus far:

    Burfict = VERY PROMISING, and plays with tenacity and a chip on his shoulder.

    Maualuga = LIABILITY. It seems like he’s walking (or jogging) up to the play just as someone else is making the tackle 95% of the time… and he’s the one that got slighted in the draft and always talked about proving everyone wrong. Where are the numbers Rey!? You’ve had ample chance to shine, but haven’t. And how long of a leash does he get to QB our defense?

  16. Count me in as a Burfict “hater” before the draft. I watched a lot of his games and observed him implode time and time again. For society’s sake, I’m glad he’s turned things around and that us taxpayer’s won’t be wasting more money paying for his incarceration if football didn’t work out.

  17. Burfict still does not take primary responsibility for his decline and meltdown. Did Erickson make him overeat at the team food tables? Did Erickson make him commit his numerous penalities, especially those retaliation ones the other teams’ offensive players egged him on to commit? Did Erickson tell him its OK to smoke dope? Did Erickson tell him not to stay in shape as he would be drafted no matter how poorly he did in the evaluations?

    Burfict will continue to blame Erickson for his personal failures to ASU, his teammates, and for all and any problems for the next year. After he next implodes due to his own issues, he will then blame Lewis for his future problems as Burfict sees himself as blameless and just a continuing victim of his coaches who exploit him and his greatness.

    If Burfict never faces up to his own guilt in screwing up his college career and his negative impact on his own decisions, then I expect one day down the road we will read of Burfict knocking over a convenience store.

  18. it’s still early he’ll do something dumm watch
    Marvin lewis can’t watch him all the time
    it’s just a matter of time before this fool does
    something stupid. but he will blame coach Erickson .

  19. Watch the games. Miami is a play or 2 away from being 4-1. Don’t act like the Bengals were supposed to run over them. They are a solid team with the best run defense in the league to this point. Just ask the Texans.

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