Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has had a great run as of late, possibly generating early defensive rookie of the year discussions.
We're seven weeks into the 2012 regular season, heading into the Week Eight bye. It's time to decompress, perhaps resetting with an opening proverb of good that's come from this team at this point. And yes. I realize I'm in the minority believing that this team remains in the postseason hunt. But that's neither here nor there. Not while we're still meandering around in October.
My bold proclamation. Vontaze Burfict should get early consideration for Defensive Player of the Year.
Hear me out.
According to coaches film, Burfict has already generated 62 tackles, starting five games (generating at least seven tackles in all five) and contributing with over half of the team's defensive snaps for only four weeks. He posted a career-high 16 tackles, recovered a special teams fumble, forced a third and 21 on a quarterback sack, generated at least three tackles for loss, two quarterback pressures and two passes defensed.
Again. He didn't play a single defensive snap against Baltimore, played less than half of the team's snaps against the Browns and Redskins, becoming fully immersed as a weakside hybrid inside linebacker since. An up arrow isn't exploring an entire story of progression with this kid.
Now. Does Burfict deserve it already this year? No, of course not. We're hinting at the progression he's made, going from backup linebacker to leading defensive contributor in such a short period of time, amassing the production to the point that his name should be included among early consideration.
Luke Kuechly, most tackles by a rookie, has also posted an interception, four passes defensed and a fumble recovery. Packers cornerback Casey Hayward leads NFL rookies with four picks and 11 passes defensed. Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones and Bruce Irvin have generated five and 4.5 quarterback sacks respectively with Jones adding three forced fumbles.
Is Burfict the best defensive rookie in the NFL right now? No. Will he be by the end of the season? At this rate, why not.