Kevin Burnett Didn't Come To San Diego To Be A Backup

Kevin Burnett
GM AJ Smith headed into this offseason intending to fix one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL; the signing of free agent linebacker Kevin Burnett was a move intended to help upgrade the Chargers' defense, particularly in third down situations. But is Kevin Burnett a situational player or do the Chargers view him as a starter?

Its not hard to catch the frustration in AJ Smith's voice when he speaks of his team's defensive struggles. A football man from the old school, Smith knows his team needs to improve defensively.

"I believe defense wins championships. I've said that a number of years and I'll never deviate from it. But we have to find out how to stop passing assaults on this football team. We've gotta get off the field."

Quietly active in free agency, the Chargers pursued Cornerback Drayton Florence, Safety Jermaine Phillips, and of course Linebacker Kevin Burnett. The Chargers were obviously looking to bolster their pass defense; San Diego has been the most passed against team the last five years and there is somewhat of a book written on how to attack their defense.

Burnett will see action early. Familiar with the system through his time playing for Wade Phillips, Burnett sees an easy transition coming to San Diego and expects to immediately contribute in the nickel package.

I asked Coach Rivera yesterday his thoughts on players who were so-called two-down linebackers. Is it crucial to have a guy who can stay on the field all three downs, or do you need to use different personal groupings in different situations?

"We try to get the best 53 players we can get on our roster that fit what we’re trying to do," Coach Rivera said. "We always try to get the best 11 players on the field that fit the situation at hand, including down and distance. All players fill various roles on the team."

Kevin Burnett arrived at the University of Tennessee as a free safety. Injuries to teammates opened up an opportunity at linebacker and Burnett seized the chance to play. He shined as a linebacker and went on to become a first team All-SEC outside linebacker.

Burnett was a highly touted prospect coming into the NFL. As a second round pick in 2005, he was expected to be a player in the league. Dallas, for whatever reason, never gave him a real opportunity to play, and Burnett is now chomping at the bit to showcase his skills. He is looking to come to San Diego and compete with Matt Wilhelm and Tim Dobbins for a starting inside linebacker job.

"I believe anywhere you go is open competition. I'm looking to being a player. I came here for the opportunity to play and that's all I can ask for. Your play speaks louder than anything. I'm ballplayer, and my job is to do whatever the team needs me to do. That said, nobody wants to be a backup. I guarantee the other guys don't, either."

April 9, 2009

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Anonymous said... Apr 9, 2009, 12:47:00 PM

Don't look like were taking Maualuga, Burnett came to play. I hope he stand's out and dominates for us. I for one think KB will be a stud on our team. He'll take over for Cooper later on down the line if we end up taking Rey. I'm excited to see his play.

Anonymous said... Apr 9, 2009, 4:29:00 PM

defintely i think it was a very good move, like they said on top dallas never gave him the proper opportunity to shine but we will, and cmon he was a second round pick thats good as far as i'm concern, i agree that he will be an impact this season but i still pray every night (literally) that we pick up the "Sting Rey."

Anonymous said... Apr 9, 2009, 8:48:00 PM

i wouldnt mind us drafting a pass rusher at 16, or even a S. i agree with AJ, we need to get the heck of the field on 3rd downs

richmond said... Apr 10, 2009, 12:22:00 AM

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said... Apr 10, 2009, 8:23:00 AM

I was hoping we get Burnett and S - Jermaine Phillips, when Phillips decided to stay at Tampa I was pulling for the Bolts to sign BUrnett and I was happy they did. He will definitely be a pressence at LB, like what the column said, he was a highly touted player coming out of TEN, just wasn't given the opportunity to play. Lights at one end, Phillips at the other, COOP/Burnett and Sting Rey in the middle would be nice to see. Now we need to get a DE and hopefully ZIGGY HOOD would still be available in the 3rd unless we can move up to 2nd to get him or AYERS..


Anonymous said... Apr 10, 2009, 9:17:00 AM

"As a second round pick in 2005, he was expected to do a player in the league"

Which player was he expected to do? I think the other player might have something to say about that....two words. PROOF READ.

Rob Zepeda said... Apr 10, 2009, 10:26:00 AM


Talk to guys in the league and you'll find out that the term "player" is used to describe someone who is a playmaker. In other words, a "player" is a "dude" who can "ball"

Anonymous said... Apr 11, 2009, 12:13:00 PM

I'm pretty sure anyone who reads this would have little trouble defining "player", the problem lies in the extremely awkward and grammatically confusing "he was expected to do a player in the league". Makes no sense and left me scratching my head, as well. Furthermore, "the chargers were obviously were obviously..." section of your article makes the proofread suggestion seem like some pretty good advice.

arnie said... Apr 12, 2009, 4:14:00 PM

he won't take over for cooper, whilhelm maybe. but if they do decide to pick up Rey, someone is going to lose ther job. maybe a couple of someones.

peace out

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