Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on making the Pro Bowl, adjusting to a new coordinator and playing without Cincinnati’s key ingredient on D
The MMQB: What’s been the difference between new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and his predecessor, Mike Zimmer?
BURFICT: There’s really no difference. The only thing that’s a little bit different is their attitudes. Zim is a stricter guy. G is a great coach to play under. He gets you ready for games. He knows just as much as Zim knew. Since Zim’s gone, I miss him a lot and everything, but at the end of the day I have to work and he has to work. I still talk to him on a day to day basis and let him know good luck at camp and all that. But I have to work on what I have to work on here. At the end of the day, there’s no drop off between Zim and Coach G.
The MMQB: What was your reaction when you found out you’d made your first Pro Bowl last season?
BURFICT: Marvin (Lewis) called me and I was actually sitting on my couch with my girlfriend. It was shocking. I was really planning on going home, relaxing for a little bit. Then I’m going to the Pro Bowl. It was kind of shocking—an overwhelming experience. I kind of cried a little bit after.
The MMQB: Geno Atkins is working his way back from his torn ACL. How important is he to this defense?
BURFICT: Man, tremendously. Literally, he’s the ingredients to our defense. You can’t make food without milk or eggs or whatever you need. We can’t play defense without him sometimes. That’s the kind of player he is. He disrupts the whole offense to make the guard stay on him, make the center stay on him. Brandon Thompson’s been doing a great job since he’s been out and in this defense we always say “next man up,” so there shouldn’t be a downfall from the first string to the third string.
— Dan Greene