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Vontaze Burfict, Bills shoulda, coulda dept.


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#1 AReed Deep For6

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:49 PM

Nice article on Burfict.... we shoulda took a flyer on him.  Thats not 50/50 hindsight either, there were plenty who saw what Marvin Lewis saw.
http://espn.go.com/n...burfict-bum-rap


Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has gambled on a few notable players in his 10 years with the franchise, and some of those gambles have blown up in his face. Rookie linebackerVontaze Burfict isn't one of them. He's gone from undraftable punch line to his team's leading tackler, and he did it while hardly anybody outside Cincinnati was paying attention. He accomplished those things for one simple reason -- his head coach saw something nobody else noticed.

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Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesComing out of college, Vontaze Burfict was dogged by his reputation as a player who could not channel his emotions appropriately.

The lesson today involves what happens when a man willing to take sizable risks spots a player who could be a jackpot waiting to happen. Too often players are written off in the draft because of rumors, reputations and recurring doubts about size, speed and other measurables. Burfict fell right into that category. He was a talent with enough college achievements to excite pro teams and enough head-scratching mistakes to scare them away.


Many might be surprised that he has become a key element in an underrated Bengals defense. Cincinnati is looking to upset Houston in Saturday's AFC wild-card playoff game. Lewis was the only person inside the Cincinnati franchise who wanted to take a shot on Burfict. "We gave him a $1,000 signing bonus when we signed him, and that's only because I asked for that," Lewis said. "[Management] wasn't even willing to give him that much coming in."


There are many reasons Burfict has blossomed into a productive NFL player so quickly. He's clearly in much better shape than in his college days at Arizona State, and the Bengals' coaches have played to his strengths. At his best, Burfict can be explosive and instinctive, a one-man wrecking crew roaming the middle of the field. Playing alongside fellow linebackerRey Maualuga, Burfict has used those skills to find a niche in the ultra-aggressive system run by defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.


Burfict also has done something else that has been extremely important -- he has harnessed his emotions. That was always the major knock on him despite his college All-America credentials. He was a time bomb in shoulder pads, a personal foul waiting to happen when faced with the slightest provocation. In 37 college games, Burfict was hit with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties 22 times.


Burfict's NFL combine should be a training tape on how not to find a job in pro football. He ran the 40-yard dash in a time that would embarrass a left guard (5.09 seconds). He was fat, unfocused and too willing to blame a disappointing junior season on his Arizona State coaches. Lewis saw him a few weeks later at Arizona State's pro day and witnessed another indication of the kid the scouts spurned. After running another mediocre 40 time, he refused to do any more sprinting that afternoon.



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AP Photo/Dave MartinVontaze Burfict's performance at the NFL combine -- slow and petulant -- impressed no one.

Lewis could've written Burfict off right then. Instead, he paid attention to something that didn't involve stopwatches or agility drills. "He called, texted and wrote me a letter to apologize after that workout," Lewis said. "When he didn't get drafted, I told our people we had a shot at getting him to come here."


Lewis had been waiting for that shot ever since the draft process started. The coach sat in meetings with all his scouts and coaches and heard every last one bad-mouth Burfict's potential. As Lewis does every year, he told the scouts they could have their opinions. He just wanted to bring in one prospect to be his personal project. Burfict had won that honor before he ever flash-fried his draft chances.


The beauty of Lewis' vision is that it reminds us once again that the first key to finding players is conviction. For all the mounting evidence against Burfict's ever becoming anything useful in the NFL, there were other signs that Lewis noticed. Burfict wasn't a troublemaker off the field, as many people had speculated. He did have problems with his emotions, but a tough childhood in Corona, Calif., helped to explain that. In short, Lewis didn't see anything he hadn't seen before.


That's usually the catch with gambles. The comfort level comes from familiarity. The risk/reward ratio has to be easy enough to stomach and tantalizing enough to excite the person taking the chance. Lewis knew Burfict -- when focused and 15-20 pounds lighter -- had been appealing enough to warrant consideration as a first-round pick. All the coach had to do was provide a structure for the player to see the value in maximizing his ability.


So Burfict has covered kickoffs this season. He has embraced the tough love Lewis has spewed when the rookie makes a mistake. Instead of freelancing and searching for a knockout shot, Burfict has been disciplined enough to stick with his assignments. He has even proved to be a quick learner after moving from his more natural spot of middle linebacker to the outside.


When you hear Burfict talk these days, he already sounds like a changed man. In Cincinnati's season-ending win over Baltimore, he said an early altercation with Ravens running back Ray Rice fired him up for the remainder of the contest. After finishing the day with 18 tackles, Burfict told The Cincinnati Enquirer that "after [Rice] did that little cheap shot, I felt like, 'OK, let's go.' It kind of had me on fire for the rest of the game. Just channeling my emotions in the right way."





BURFICT'S BIG IMPACT
http://a.espncdn.com...taze_cr_203.jpg
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict's impact on the Bengals' defense this season is unmatched. Stats & Info blog »

Those are the kinds of comments Burfict never would have uttered a year ago. He also would have been on the wrong end of that scuffle. But it was Rice who earned a personal foul. This is what can happen when borderline players learn a thing or two about humility. They start growing up in ways most of their critics never imagined.


As the Bengals prepare for the wild-card game in Houston, it's not likely that Burfict will generate that much buzz beforehand. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is a front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the Bengals' defense has more noteworthy contributors, such as Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerbackLeon Hall. A guy such as Burfict easily can get lost in the postseason hype. Rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson also are in the playoffs, and there just isn't enough love to go around.


That's why it's important to remember Burfict today and to ponder where his career is heading. Lewis acknowledges that this wasn't one of the biggest risks he's ever taken, especially because there was no draft pick riding on it. On the other hand, it has to be one of the most gratifying. A lot of people figured Vontaze Burfict for a bum by this point. So far, he has proved to be anything but.

#2 Kiwi Bills fan

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:56 PM

Why?

#3 PromoTheRobot

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:09 PM

You mean 20/20. 50/50 vision would not be good.

#4 NoSaint

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:14 PM

you know, its like people read that lewis has taken a ton of risky shots(some that have really damaged that team) but disregard that because this one worked out so its a sound philosophy....

he had a lot of issues on and off the field. to say you knew ahead of time that the out of shape at the combine, out of control on the field lb, benched by his college coach, that tested positive at the combine, was a gimme is not fair.

hes worked so far, but this first off season will be a major test for him - money in his pocket and time on his hands is a recipe that challenges a lot of these guys that are a handful.

Edited by NoSaint, 03 January 2013 - 06:15 PM.


#5 ChesterRocCo

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:16 PM

I went to ASU during his playing days.  He was sometimes the best player on the field and other times he cost the team dearly with his personal fouls.  I was shocked when i read about his combine last year and wondered if it was the end of the line for the kid, considering the bad attitude/head case reputation didn't help his stock either.  That being said i really wanted buf to take a look at him when i heard the former potential 1st round prospect went undrafted, nothing to lose.  

I wonder if coming so close to his dream of playing professional football and almost blowing it was a wake up call.  His personal fouls were tolerated at ASU because he was by far the best option, yet i think he knows that will land him on the bench in the NFL.   All in all im happy for the guy, you hear so many stories these days of guys like this blowing it or burning every last bridge in the league, i hope he can maintain a successful career.

#6 NoSaint

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:18 PM

View PostGarvis, on 03 January 2013 - 06:16 PM, said:

I went to ASU during his playing days.  He was sometimes the best player on the field and other times he cost the team dearly with his personal fouls.  I was shocked when i read about his combine last year and wondered if it was the end of the line for the kid, considering the bad attitude/head case reputation didn't help his stock either.  That being said i really wanted buf to take a look at him when i heard the former potential 1st round prospect went undrafted, nothing to lose.  

I wonder if coming so close to his dream of playing professional football and almost blowing it was a wake up call.  His personal fouls were tolerated at ASU because he was by far the best option, yet i think he knows that will land him on the bench in the NFL.   All in all im happy for the guy, you hear so many stories these days of guys like this blowing it or burning every last bridge in the league, i hope he can maintain a successful career.

id certainly love to hear it was a wake up call for him. i love a good redemption story - im just a bit slow to hop on the bandwagon of "lets get him on our side" when there were so many issues that were on going.



#7 Damond Talbot

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:25 PM

I have a very good relationship with Vontaze, he is a very good kid. He was just murdered by the media.  I talk with him at least once a week.  Had a very good interview with him last year.

It is funny how all these guys are on his jock now, but they were the same guys throwing him under the bus last year.

#8 Dragonborn10

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:35 PM

But Marv Levy said talent without high character doesn't succeed in the NFL....

#9 Bangarang

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:37 PM

View PostDamond Talbot, on 03 January 2013 - 06:25 PM, said:

I have a very good relationship with Vontaze, he is a very good kid. He was just murdered by the media.  I talk with him at least once a week.  Had a very good interview with him last year.

It is funny how all these guys are on his jock now, but they were the same guys throwing him under the bus last year.

He was murdered by the media because he showed up to the combine out of shape and had a 5.10 40 time as a MLB. He may be a good guy but he was unprepared for the biggest job interview of his life.

He landed in a good situation and is now having a productive start to his NFL career. It doesn't make every team that passed on him during the draft dumb.

#10 NoSaint

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:39 PM

View PostBangarang, on 03 January 2013 - 06:37 PM, said:



He was murdered by the media because he showed up to the combine out of shape and had a 5.10 40 time as a MLB. He may be a good guy but he was unprepared for the biggest job interview of his life.

He landed in a good situation and is now having a productive start to his NFL career. It doesn't make every team that passed on him during the draft dumb.

He also failed the drug test.

#11 Captain Hindsight

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:42 PM

There were enough red flags to pass on him. The bengals took a chance and it worked, but it could have just as easily not

#12 You herd it hear last

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:49 PM

View PostPromoTheRobot, on 03 January 2013 - 06:09 PM, said:

You mean 20/20. 50/50 vision would not be good.

you should probably reply in a larger font for him, just in case.

#13 K-9

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:56 PM

View PostDadonkadonk, on 03 January 2013 - 06:35 PM, said:

But Marv Levy said talent without high character doesn't succeed in the NFL....

You don't understand what Marv meant by character. He never equated that with choir boy behavior. He always referred to it as "football character." Football character is that personality trait a player possesses that makes him want to sacrifice what it takes to be the best. It's about the work put into the process and the accountability to your coaches and teammates. Few of his stars were perfect citizens off the field. Far from it. But they were all willing to pay the price necessary to be the best at what they did. For all the banned substances he took, nobody could match Bruce Smith's workout habits and film study dedication. He literally broke stairmasters keeping himself in shape. Spent hour upon hour studying opponents. That's just one example.

GO BILLS!!!

Edited by K-9, 03 January 2013 - 06:57 PM.


#14 3rdand12

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:13 PM

Nice story about Lewis. If he picked the kid up and got him on track then thats alright by me.
Put W in the humanitarian column.
Kid looked like he was out to wreck himself by the combine

#15 NoSaint

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:16 PM

View PostK-9, on 03 January 2013 - 06:56 PM, said:



You don't understand what Marv meant by character. He never equated that with choir boy behavior. He always referred to it as "football character." Football character is that personality trait a player possesses that makes him want to sacrifice what it takes to be the best. It's about the work put into the process and the accountability to your coaches and teammates. Few of his stars were perfect citizens off the field. Far from it. But they were all willing to pay the price necessary to be the best at what they did. For all the banned substances he took, nobody could match Bruce Smith's workout habits and film study dedication. He literally broke stairmasters keeping himself in shape. Spent hour upon hour studying opponents. That's just one example.

GO BILLS!!!

You have that saved in a word document for these threads, don't you?

#16 K-9

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:19 PM

View PostNoSaint, on 03 January 2013 - 07:16 PM, said:

You have that saved in a word document for these threads, don't you?

Ha ha. Seems I have to dust it off every now and then. Those that have been reading my little sermon for the last 16 years will just have to bear with me I guess.

GO BILLS!!!

#17 NoSaint

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

View PostK-9, on 03 January 2013 - 07:19 PM, said:



Ha ha. Seems I have to dust it off every now and then. Those that have been reading my little sermon for the last 16 years will just have to bear with me I guess.

GO BILLS!!!

Frankly, it should be pinned from January 1 through may 1 with the draft and free agency.

#18 DrDareustein

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:26 PM

View PostK-9, on 03 January 2013 - 07:19 PM, said:

Ha ha. Seems I have to dust it off every now and then. Those that have been reading my little sermon for the last 16 years will just have to bear with me I guess.

GO BILLS!!!

Preach on!

#19 Kipers Hair

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:30 PM

View PostCaptain Hindsight, on 03 January 2013 - 06:42 PM, said:

There were enough red flags to pass on him. The bengals took a chance and it worked, but it could have just as easily not
What was the chance taken?  A draft pick?  Nope - a no strings attached free agent contract with nothing guaranteed.  No Risk...All Reward.  Let's not pat Marvin on the back for anything but giving the kid a chance...he risked nothing.  Shame on us for passing on him, especially when you consider our starting weakside linebacker was his mentor this past Summer....

#20 filthymcnasty08

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:34 PM

ahem....(post #11)

http://forums.twobil...l-of-the-draft/