Despite putting together one of the best, albeit heartbreaking, seasons in Cincinnati Bengals history in 2015, a rough offseason and a lack of direction culminated in a discouraging 6-9-1 record at the end of last season. There are those who believe the season highlighted multiple problems with the team that could take a long time to fix. But, if you ask new Bengals linebacker Kevin Minter, he believes there is plenty of reason to believe the team is capable of putting together strong results in 2017.
“These guys are good guys. They’re real focused. This team could do some special things this year,” Minter told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “If we keep this edge. A lot of the guys have chips on their shoulders. They want to win this year. I’m excited about it.”
Minter signed with the Bengals back in March after a four year career with the Arizona Cardinals, playing all 16 games in his last three seasons and starting all 16 games in his last two. So far, Minter seems to think last season was a fluke for Cincinnati, as he praised the drive and attitude of the players in the Bengals’ locker room.
“I know they’re talking about how last year they haven’t lost like that in a long time,” Minter said. ”They’re ready to get it this year. It’s a good feeling to be a part of something like that. Everybody is ready to win.”
Another person who is ready to win is the ultra-talented Vontaze Burfict. The sixth year former undrafted linebacker out of Arizona State is not only showing Minter the ropes, but also the kind of drive and work ethic the Bengals value.
”He’s definitely smart,” Minter said of Burfict. “He knows the playbook like the back of his hand. I’m trying to stay around him. He’s helped me a lot, getting those little nuggets in there. When I realized how long he’s actually been in the same defense I can see how.”
In addition to the many exciting players Minter will have the pleasure of working with in 2017, he is expected to provide a big boost for the Bengals’ defense. He was brought in to inject talent and promise at a position that has stagnated in recent years, explaining why those within the Bengals organization are excited about what he will bring to the team.
“(Minter’s) a physical linebacker,” said Jeremy Hill, a teammate of Minter’s at LSU and now again in Cincinnati. “He’s got a nose for the ball. He’s smart. He tackles well. A great blitzer. He’ll definitely upgrade our linebacker corps this year … Great team guy … a leader… he’s a quiet guy but he’s going to bring it every single day and that’s what we need in our linebacker corps.”
A motivated, physical player who is excited to play in Cincinnati is exactly what the Bengals needed after a rough 2016 season. 6-9-1 was extremely discouraging, especially after such a successful 2015 season. But, Minter seems convinced the good times are on their way back, and the hope is he can be one of the catalysts for that coming true. If so, he could end up staying in Cincinnati much longer than the one season for which he’s under contract.