Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
During the AFC coaches breakfast, Marvin Lewis stated that he will likely keep Rey Maualuga at MIKE and Vontaze Bufict at WILL for the upcoming season.
Marvin Lewis stated that the team is unlikely to make an drastic changes at linebacker for the 2013 season and he plans to keep Rey Maualuga at MIKE and Vontaze Burfict at WILL, per Joe Reedy and Geoff Hobson.
Lewis reiterates keeping Burfict at WIL and Maualuga in the middle— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) March 19, 2013
Lewis on Burfict maybe moving to MLB:I would doubt it.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) March 19, 2013
Lewis indicated that he'd keep Maualuga in middle and Tez at WILL, but he also said I don't know a couple of times.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) March 19, 2013
Lewis on Rey and Burfict staying put: We're comfortable with where we are on defense. Rey did a good job managing kinder care out there— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) March 19, 2013
Lewis on Rey: Don't listen to the criticism. He's improved in all aspects.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) March 19, 2013
Maualuga struggled throughout the 2012 season as he was one of the most inconsistent linebackers in the league in a 4-3 defense. His struggles were highlighted in the team's playoff game in Houston against the Texans in which Maualuga was constantly picked on in the passing game and was beaten several times in the running game as well.
Undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict excelled at WILL, though, and became the team's leading tackler and best overall linebacker as a rookie in 2012. Since Maualuga was a free agent, most believed the team would slide Burfict to MIKE, which is considered his natural position, and look for a new SAM linebacker and possibly re-sign Thomas Howard for WILL. When the team re-signed Maualuga, most believed that Burfict would still move to MIKE and Maualuga may compete for the starting SAM job.
Pro Football Focus rated Maualuga as the worst inside linebacker in the league, earning an overall grade of -26.3. He earned a negative grade at MIKE in 2011 as well. However, at SAM he excelled, earning a grade of 5.1 in '09 and 5.8 in '10. The SAM linebacker was on the field for less than half of the team's snaps in 2012 as the Bengals were in the nickel formation more often than not.
The Bengals' defense finished the 2012 regular season with the No. 6 ranked defense in the league. They were ranked seventh against the pass and 12th against the run.