Dhani Jones, the Bengals defensive leader for the past four years retired this week from the NFL. His replacement, current middle linebacker Rey Maualuga credits Dhani for his seamless transition to the middle from playing outside linebacker. Maualuga said,
"He was so wise in how he communicated. If it was complicated for coaches to teach me, he made it a lot easier."
Maualuga clearly has the physical talent, and having a cerebral mentor like Dhani must have proved invaluable for Maualuga's ability to pick up the defense. Maualuga's success is evident in the fact that the current Bengals defense is the top ranked unit in the NFL.
Marvin Lewis also commented on the effect that Dhani had on the younger players, including Maualuga. He stated that, "They followed him around like little chicks." Although not the most physically talented middle linebacker, Dhani was able to thrive in the NFL due to his toughness, knowledge and leadership abilities. Being able to pass these traits on to a physical specimen like Maualuga bodes well for the future of the Bengals defense.