Lions receiver Nate Burleson appeared live in-studio this morning on NFL Network’s NFL AM. Burleson has been busy appearing on a number of media outlets in recent weeks, preparing for a possible post-football television career.
During his appearance Tuesday, he talked about the Lions’ 4-12 season, Titus Young, Jim Schwartz and more.
On finishing the season 4-12 after making the playoffs in 2011:
“There are so many things you can point to. I’m a guy that doesn’t make excuses; as one of the leaders on the team, I’m going to say it’s on us. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we perform at the same level we did in 2011, and we just didn’t. The type of games that we won so often in 2011 we couldn’t do this year; in the third and fourth quarters, it always seemed there was one play that just shut us down and we couldn’t overcome.
“We have to come back this offseason as leaders and figure out what it is; how to bring that fight back, that dog back, that tenacity and enthusiasm that we played with. I remember in 2011, we felt like we were backed into a corner every game, and in 2012 we just didn’t have that. As leaders, we have to figure that out.”
On if there was a sense of complacency after making the playoffs in 2011:
“From the outside looking in, a lot of people thought that. That might have been the perspective that ‘maybe they feel like they’ve arrived’. That’s not the case. We’re still as hungry, we’re still as passionate and we didn’t become complacent in where we were. It’s just that we didn’t finish, and that’s a big deal in this league. Every game is going to be decided by the seven or three points, and this year we just couldn’t overcome that. That’s what falls on the shoulders of the players.”
On if he was surprised that Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was not fired:
“No, I wasn’t surprised just because he has brought so much to this organization and he has created a different type of attitude. For so long, the Detroit Lions were somewhat of the armpit of the NFL, and nobody cared. Now, people are starting to take notice. This year was a huge step back; 4-12 is not where we wanted to be.
“I was surprised that we fired our receivers coach Shawn Jefferson. He’s a big-time coach, a great asset, a guy that can come in every day and motivate the best player in the game in Calvin Johnson. I was surprised in that but the team has to make moves and you just have to go with the punches.”
On wide receiver Titus Young:
“Titus is like a little brother to me. He’s a guy that I’ve given a lot of energy to over the last couple of years. For a lot of the reasons that people might misunderstand what he does, I appreciate Titus. He’s young, he’s passionate. Guys come into the NFL and they’re complacent in where they are; they got it, they’re drafted, they have the money, now they relax. Titus, he doesn’t want to relax. He wants to be the best, he wants to be the guy, and sometimes that gets in the way of his role on the team.
“I have to talk to him and say, ‘We’re with Calvin, so for so many reasons we have to be the background dancers; we have to go do our thing, we have to be Tito, he’s [Michael Jackson] so let him do his thing and we’ll back him up when he needs us.’ He has a clear understanding of that now. Being exiled, some suspensions, he’s going to get back to where he needs to be because he’s a great asset. He’s one of the great route runners I’ve seen and he’s only a couple of years into the league. He has tremendous hands, so if we can get him on the same page he can help us quite a bit.”
On what element might be missing from Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s game:
“I wish I could pinpoint that. Being a receiver, I never claim to be a quarterback coach. I hear everything that everybody says about the way he throws, his mechanics, his footwork, but I could tell you this that there are throws that he makes that nobody else can make. That’s why he’s in the position that he is. Just like every other athlete in the offseason, you go back to the drawing board, you work on the little things; you build on the strengths and you work on the weaknesses. So for Matt, I believe he’s going to do that regardless of whatever it is. He needs to take that next step.
“In my eyes, he’s a really good quarterback; I’m waiting for him to take that elite step and he has the capability of doing that. I’m excited for next year because he’s young. Just because he got thrown into the fire, they expect so much of him and he’s overachieved a lot since he’s come back from his early injuries. Almost two 5,000-yard seasons is hard to do. He’s come back and proved he can be that guy. I want him to be elite though and a lot people do. There is a lot of pressure on him but that’s why you get paid the big bucks.”
On who is the league’s MVP:
“That’s Calvin Johnson. If we were winning – say we got to the playoffs – he would definitely be in the conversation. Now, Peyton Manning – unbelievable coming back from the neck, going to Denver and doing more for that city almost than [Tim] Tebow did and Tebow caused hysteria out there. Adrian Peterson coming back from the ACL, I had an ACL in 2008 so I know how difficult that is. But the things that Calvin does, he’s in the same boat as AP: everybody knows he’s going to get the ball but he still gets the ball regardless. He’s out there getting viced in the slot like he’s about to cover a punt, so he creates coverages that I haven’t seen since playing with Randy Moss.”
On whether Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford should be setting records for pass attempts:
“It is a lot but I believe that he should. When you have a guy like Calvin [Johnson], you have no choice but to put the ball up there as many times as you need to … Now, you’re not going to hit every one, but when you get that big catch in fishing it makes it worthwhile. When you go out there and you have that big game, that highlight catch that Calvin creates, it’s worthwhile all of those attempts.”
On how he is recovering him his broken leg:
“It’s good. I have a little hardware in there. I’m early in the rehab stages but I’m ahead of schedule, which is a good thing. I’m trying to get back. I’m 31, have a couple more years on my contract. Trying to get back to where I was and get the team back to where we were.”
Tags: Calvin Johnson, Jim Schwartz, Matthew Stafford, Nate Burleson, Shawn Jefferson, Titus Young
Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 6 Comments »