Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther met with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine today and offered their first public comments linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension.
“I’m upset about it,” Guenther said. “I can’t say much about the league without me getting in trouble. I want to comment on the hit that he got suspended on. I’m going to defend Vontaze all the way on this thing.”
The hit, which came at the end of the wild-card loss to Pittsburgh, left Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown with a concussion and unable to play the following week in a divisional playoff loss at Denver.
“When you’re playing that fast, you don’t know the ball is complete or incomplete,” Guenther said. “He’s trying to end the game. It’s the last play of the game. When he opens up, and the ball is right here, if he wanted to kill that guy, he really could have killed him. But he didn’t.
“He doesn’t know if the ball is in or out,” Guenther added. “He has to aim lower. I guess I have to start teaching it differently.”
Lewis said Burfict needs to change, but not the way he plays.
“It’s not playing football. It’s not playing linebacker. His change comes conceptually,” Lewis said. “He’s a fine, fine player. He’s got to continue to be the guy that we expect him to be to win football games for us.”
Asked if he was surprised the suspension was for three games and that it was upheld on appeal, Lewis said, “My response doesn’t need to carry any more water. It’s done.”