More and more, it seems like Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict are being criticized for the way that they play the game of football. But, if you ask Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Burfict and Jones are passionate, energetic, and dedicated members of the Bengals defense and their outstanding play is what should be remembered.
Geoff Hobson caught up with the dynamic Seahawks cornerback at the Pro Bowl to get his opinion on some of the Bengals players both in attendance and not in attendance. Sherman, as always, had quite a lot to say. One thing Hobson noted was how complimentary Sherman was about the much maligned style of play from the two players who are consistently some of the biggest playmakers on the Bengals' defense.
"You see he's always where he's supposed to be when he's supposed to be there. He gambles a little bit and he gets his hands on the football," Sherman to Hobson in addressing Jones' confrontational and physical methods. "I watch a lot of him and the Cincinnati defense on film. They played a lot of the same teams and they use some similar concepts we use in Seattle so we have to watch them to get a read on the offense."
Sherman's sentiment echoes why the Bengals haven't given any indication that they intend to part ways with Jones, despite his history of legal trouble and frequently flagged on-field antics. At the Pro Bowl, Jones generally kept his assignment in check save for one 23 yard gain on a blown assignment. But, his solid play was a significant part of the reason why Team Irvin beat Team Rice by a 22 point margin.
Jones wasn't the only Bengals player that Sherman paid respect to at the Pro Bowl. Burfict has been the subject of growing noise coming from fans across the league, (even from some Bengals fans) calling for him to be removed from the league due to his hard-nosed and arguably reckless style of play.
"Everybody on that ball field is out there doing what they can to win," Sherman said in speaking on Burfict. "You never judge a guy for one thing. How far do they go if he's not there at all? How far do they go with him not playing defense? Without Vontaze? You can say what you want about that last play, but are they even there without them? I don't think they are."
Sherman has been known to be more on the loud and physical side of the spectrum throughout his career, but it's still a glowing approval of the patented style that has made Burfict such a feared player in the league.
Sherman's high praise for the Bengals' defense might have something to do with the fact that Bengals players comprised roughly 16 percent of his Pro Bowl team's defense or the fact that Geno Atkins was one of the team's captains. But, it probably also had a lot to do with the fact that the Bengals sported the NFL's second best scoring defense this year (279 points allowed) - surpassed only by Sherman's Seahawks (277 points allowed). And, that 27 of those 277 points the Seahawks allowed came at the hands of the Bengals who rallied to beat the Seahawks after trailing by 17 points in the fourth quarter.
"They had a great year," Sherman said of the Bengals. "It sucks what happened. They were rolling. Injuries are the damper. That sucks."