Through the first three games of the season, Kevin Minter collected seven tackles, and 10 assists. His presence filling for Vontaze Burfict helped the team to the third-best defense in yards through three games.
With Vontaze Burfict returning when the Cincinnati Bengals took on the Cleveland Browns this past weekend, fans and media alike is wondering, how will Kevin Minter help the Bengals defense despite seeing his snap time cut in half with Burfict returning.
Taking a look at the Cleveland game specifically, Minter did lose time to Vontaze Burfict returning, but also lost a lot of time on the field to the pass defense scheme that Paul Guenther employed to force the Browns into running the ball, which after a few stops and scores by Cincinnati, became impossible.
On some of the snaps that Minter did play against the Browns, he saw use at Middle Linebacker, and the Bengals moved Burfict down to the outside to compliment Nick Vigil and the defensive line. On this play, Minter starts in the middle of the 4-3, and is sent on a blitz with Nick Vigil, who ends up making the play in the backfield.
Minter actually breaks out of a double team in blocking, and had Vigil missed the tackle, Minter would have been right there to make the hit. With Burfict’s ability to cover receivers, Paul Guenther can let Vigil and Minter blitz off the edge with nearly no worry about the tight end on the far side of the formation going out to receive a pass.
On the second angle, you can really tell how well Minter does at breaking through the blocks in the hole and how that disrupts Isaiah Crowell’s running pattern, forcing him to the outside where Vigil is coming in hot. Not only was this a great call from Guenther, but great plays by both Nick Vigil and Kevin Minter to attack the ball carrier.
On the next play, Minter again starts next to Burfict, but this time on a pass play. Nick Vigil blitzes again from the top side of the formation, and the Bengals bring Shawn Williams on the blitz too. Minter and Burfict do a really solid job in coverage here, taking away two of the easier options for Deshone Kizer to throw to on his checkdowns, which gives Vigil and Williams enough time to bring him down for the sack.
Minter watches the Tight End come off the line, and follows him through the middle, passing him off to the cornerback as he exits the zone, then moving forward to cover the receiver running the hook.
Minter’s skills in coverage here help Vigil hammer home the sack as Kizer was looking for either the tight end on the out that Burfict was covering, then reading over to the receiver that Minter had on the comeback. Minter not only supplies a quality backup and replacement for Vontaze Burfict, but also gives the Bengals another linebacker that can rotate in for quality minutes to not only blitz and run protect, but cover alongside Burfict as well.
Against a team like the Browns, Paul Guenther wanted to force Deshone Kizer to make quick decisions and make the Browns run the ball well. However, against a team like Buffalo next week, Minter could see more snaps to try and help not only cover LeSean McCoy in the running game, but also blitz on pass plays and force Tyrod Taylor to think fast on his feet about where the blitz is coming from.