It has never been a question of talent when it comes to Vontaze Burfict. The man has talent. He has always been a vocal player that is easy to rile up. As Bengals fans we love that about him. The Bengals defense has been lacking a mean streak. A player not afraid to stand up and tell the team how it is. James Harrison has provided a definite boost to the strength, confidence, and pure violence to not only the line backing core, but to the entire defense.
Watching Hard Knocks has given us some great insight to `taze. He is quick to call out his teammates and backs up his big mouth, with big play, and a lot of heart. It's not just attitude, you can tell he really cares. Hard Knocks has given us some unique views of each preseason game, as well as practice. Every play, you can hear him calling things out, running the defense, and hyping up his team. When Marvin needs someone to pick up the defense and get the guys going, he calls on Burfict. Not Rey Maualuga, not Harrison, not even the great and powerful Geno Atkins. (Geno is obviously VERY well respected but more of a lead by example type of player)
I hate to beat a dead horse but it sounds like exactly what you want out of your starting Middle Linebacker. Last season as an UDFA he recorded more sacks then Rey Maualuga while playing the weak side, in fact he lead the team. Let's face it, Rey Maualuga is no leader. I know there's other things that go into the decision, and I agree that Rey has played better this year thusfar. I'm not even saying he won't end up as a very good player. The fact remains, he's not the commander of this defense, and has always been better suited to play the weak side. That is where he had (arguably) his most productive season as an NFL linebacker. Vontaze Burfict played Middle Linebacker at Arizone State. It's probably too late to switch them this year. If they were going to, it would have been at the start of the off season, but if ever you needed proof who belongs at MLB...I believe we now have it.
As always I love to hear what you guys think, and enjoy debating with you in the comments. I think Rey might actually benefit from having some of the pressure taken off of him. Obviously making him a captain and calling him out wasn't the way to get more production out of him. Maybe this is the answer? You decide.