There is nothing worse than watching a player sign a new deal worth a nice chunk of cash only to see that players production plummet the very next season. That is what happened to Green Bay Packers Safety Morgan Burnett, and he is going to have to rectify that in 2014.
The former Yellow Jackets safety who was taken by the Packers in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft signed a four-year/ $24.75 million deal going into 2013. Burnett was coming off a pretty solid 2012 campaign where he logged a career high 87 tackles and two sacks.
With his new deal in hand, his numbers took a dip. True, he only played 13 games but he did not record any sacks or any interceptions.
The sack number might be tolerable as a safety, but the interception number can be a point of concern. Interceptions along with big hits are the biggest ways safeties can impact the game.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is looking for Burnett to take that next step and have a major impact on football games going into this year.
In an espn.com post by Rob Demovsky, McCarthy echoed those sentiments:
” I think the guy needs to – and I think he will – he’ll be coached to make more impact plays. That’ll be his emphasis next year, and he’s the type of guy that will do it. The guy will go about it. He’s a pro. I wish he’d be more assertive, but that’s not really his personality, either. He’s a soft-spoken young man.”
The Packers are going to need Burnett to be a beast in their defensive secondary. They don’t want him to be passive or afraid to take risks. They need Burnett to throw caution to the wind and go be an aggressive intimidator in the defensive backfield.
The situation that always seems to come to mind that sums up Burnett’s 2013 is the play that took place against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Game.
Burnett was in position to break up the 28 yard touchdown grab by Vernon Davis, but it was almost like he was thinking to hard and it bogged down his motor skills.
The result was Burnett flailing at the ball as it sailed over his head and into the arms of Vernon Davis. That is the kind of thing that can’t happen in 2014 and McCarthy is confident that Burnett will put in the work to improve his play-making ability:
“I think he’s fully capable of doing it, Morgan’s going to do everything he can. He needs to be more assertive in play-making opportunities. He did not have a good year in that particular area. There was a lot of production otherwise, too, but … what safeties do they talk about? The ones that make the big hit or the ones that make interceptions. And until he starts doing that, they’re not going to talk about him that way. They don’t talk about 100-tackle safeties anymore.”
With the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions both boasting two of the more prolific aerial attacks in the NFC North, Morgan Burnett’s role is going to be huge in pass coverage. It sounds like Mike McCarthy and the Packers brass are going to let 2013 slide for Burnett as far as his impact on games is concerned. However, in 2014 Burnett is going to have to deliver and play big.
It is time for him to go out and give the Packers an impactful return on their investment.