New Raiders linebacker Kevin Burnett has is entering his ninth year in the league this year but his numbers have never been better than last season when he started every game for the Miami Dolphins and finished with 110 combined tackles.
It was his second time in two years with the Dolphins going over 100 tackles. And yet, the Dolphins cut him in the off-season to save money, which led to the veteran linebacker to sign a two-year deal with the Raiders this off-season.
Burnett acknowledges that he feels the negativity of the press and fans at times and it makes him want to succeed. He said, “People say, ‘Oh, he got this, he did this, he’s sorry, he’s this, he’s that.’ Well, like you say, my numbers have gone up every season, so…what’s that a product of? You know, I’ve been on good football teams, had other people around me so it’s not just that I’m on a sorry football team.”
If it sounds like Burnett has a chip on his shoulder, it’s because he does. He agreed that many of the players on this Raiders team had something to prove and he doesn’t think that it’s an accident that the team has signed a lot of players that feel they have something to prove. He also thinks the Raiders’ have signed players to the one or two year deals to which the fans have become so accustomed for a reason.
Burnett said, “If you look at the construction of this team, it’s not by happenstance a lot of people are here on short-term deals. See, what you do by doing that is you create a hungry football team. By creating a hungry football team, you’re creating a team that plays with a sense of urgency, guys that are not complacent.”
Burnett also thinks that the Raiders are using the short-term contracts to give players an opportunity to show their worth so the team can begin to build longer term. He explained, “Don’t think that we got a 1-year deal because he can’t play – that’s not the case. The case is simply we’re going to create a team with guys playing with urgency.”
He added, “By doing that you see one guy go there and then the next guy and the next guy, that’s how teams load up. That’s how the New England Patriots are usually at the top of the league every year because they get a bunch of guys who wanna go win. It’s not about the money, anymore, at that point of time. It’s about winning.”
Burnett didn’t want to talk about the scheme he was playing in or his impressions of it in the interview but he said that he thinks writers and fans, alike, probably make too much of a deal about the scheme when the success of the football team - or lack thereof – boils down to players making plays.
Burnett explained his philosophy on football by saying, “Football’s a relatively easy game.” He said, “I think we tend to over complicate it and we make a big deal out of scheme when it’s really not.” He added, about the linebacker position, “You got an outside guy, a middle guy and an overlap guy. It’s not that hard.”