When Vontaze Burfict doesn't play, there's chaos. CHAOS. People running through the streets, sirens blaring and the emergency broadcast violently drowns the screams that you think you hear from a distance. Then again, if you listen to the Carolina Panthers, that's the description when Burfict plays. When Burfict doesn't start, the Bengals defense is averaging 167.8 yards rushing per game (and 5.4 yards/rush)... when Burfict starts, that number is dramatically reduced to 123.2 yards (4.6 yards/rush).
Cincinnati's defense, having already lost the Demi-God Mike Zimmer, has been without their pro bowl linebacker for four of nine games this season. And in three of the five games he's played (Ravens, Falcons, and Colts), Burfict only contributed with 33.9 percent of those snaps. If we break it down to its simplest form, Burfict has only played two full games (Panthers, Ravens II) this season. If we average those games, Cincinnati still only allowed 127.0 yards rushing per game.
The culprit for Burfict's absences are concussions, which forced him out early against the Ravens in the regular season opener and the ensuing game against Atlanta. Cincinnati sat their stud linebacker against the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots, before returning against Carolina, Indianapolis and Baltimore II.
Following Cincinnati's 27-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 26, the team found "something floating in his knee". Burfict said that the injury happened in the first quarter, but thought it was only a bruise. Burfict underwent arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 27. The team announced that Burfict will miss a couple of weeks but could have a shot against the New Orleans Saints.
"What you are talking about is something that can float in there but the problem is if it locks in the joint then your leg locks or also the fact if you leave it in there and you continue to try to play which is what his initial thought was you can do some further damage," head coach Marvin Lewis said via the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"You don't want to do that. When the adrenaline is going and things like that unless it's in the joint it's fine the problem is you don't want it to get stuck in the joint and cause issue. That's why the best thing to do is to bite the bullet right now and get it removed and get him back rehabbing and get him healthy for the rest of the way."
Burfict entered this season as the team's leading tackler in 2012 and 2013, where the totaled 204 stops, 94 more than the second-place finisher (Rey Maualuga). Burfict earned a roster spot on the pro bowl team and a second-team mention on the Associated Press All-Pro team. The Bengals signed Burfict to a contract extension (four-year, $19 million with $6.9 million guaranteed) on Aug. 27, keeping him in Cincinnati through 2017.