Tuesday, November 10, 2020

MMQB: Monday Night Spotlight


By Albert Breer

November 9, 2020




Each week, we’ll connect with a player set to climb atop the Monday Night Football stage to get answers to a few questions. This week, Patriots RB Rex Burkhead

MMQB: What was this week like in the building, and how much did you guys discuss what was happening in the country in the locker room?

RB: Yeah, I mean, we’re not just football players, we know what’s going on in the country. So you keep track of the election and everything going on. As far as conversations go, anything that happens on that side stays behind closed doors. But there are times where we do have those open conversations and try to get a better understanding overall, because we are people, we’re not just football players, we’re citizens of this country. We are interested in what’s going on.

MMQB: Is it fair to say this is one of the more educated groups on these sorts of things that you’ve been around?

RB: I don’t know. I feel like every team definitely has guys who are educated or interested in what’s going on, and want to voice their opinions. I do feel like we have a strong leadership in guys who are definitely vocal about it and want to express their opinions or talk about it with other guys. And it’s not only to express their opinions, but maybe to get a better understanding of one side or the other.

MMQB: What’s it been like playing with Cam Newton, and how has the perception met the reality?

RB: Cam, he’s been great—he’s been coming to work every single day and working his tail off. He’s been a leader for us, understanding if we make mistakes in a game, we’ve gotta do our best to move forward. He does that, and just his mentality every single day, and of course his versatility—he’s been a great player in this league for a long time, he’s been the MVP, it’s definitely fun to learn from him, and the plays and systems he’s been in, as we’ve tried to implement that with our team.

MMQB: How does it change the dynamic in the run game for a running back, going from Tom Brady to Cam?

RB: It gives you another threat. It gives you another focus for the defense, that they have to look at. At times, it opens up the run game for us as running backs quite a bit. It’s nice to have that versatility and another dimension to have to scheme up against a defense. And of course our offensive line has done a tremendous job opening up holes for us, and helping us play physical and get going from the jump.

MMQB: It’s been a long time since the Patriots have lost four in a row, so what was it like in the building this week from that standpoint?

RB: Just a lot of urgency to come to work every single day and get better, learn from our mistakes in the Bills game, and move forward and understand we have a great challenge with another division game against an opponent that’s gonna be hungry, Monday night at their place. We’re trying to take that big leap forward, get better and get back on the right track.

MMQB: Is there anything specific you feel like you guys need to do better to turn it around?

RB: Yeah, I mean, I can’t pick just one thing. I mean, there are many things we can improve upon, just little details, little things for sure. We’re just trying to do that to the best of our ability, whether that’s within a position, or a certain group, or offense, defense, special teams, whatever it is. If we can collectively each get better in those specific areas, then we’ll improve.

MMQB: What’s the biggest challenge facing a Gregg Williams defense?

RB: They do a tremendous job scheming things up, for sure, and being multiple on that side, giving you different looks. Of course, they’ve always had a really good defensive front—big guys, physical guys, and linebackers that can get on the line of scrimmage or play off, and play in the passing game. They do a great job being multiple so we’re gonna have to be ready from the get-go, and make sure we have our eyes in the right spots.

MMQB: You’re on pace to have more carries than you ever have—and it’s your eighth year in the league. It feels like that’s the opposite of the way things go for backs. What do you think the key’s been for you, getting to a point where you’re more involved than ever before?

RB: I mean, just trying to do my job, my role, whatever Coach [Josh] McDaniels asks me every single day. Of course, early on in my career, I played a lot on special teams and I wasn’t necessarily playing a lot of offense. So to come on later in my career, I feel great. I feel like I have plenty of years left to play. And of course McDaniels does a great job just putting us in position to win and be successful on a weekly basis. And that’s what I try to do every time my number gets called.

MMQB: So it sounds like you think New England’s a pretty good fit, four years in?

RB: Oh yeah, definitely. I enjoy it here. We have a great offensive scheme. Our coaches are great at using our versatility, putting us in great positions to be successful.

MMQB: Fair to say every game’s a must-win now, based on your record?

RB: We’re just trying to be a better football team. Of course, we understand, we put ourselves in this tough position, and the only way to fix it is to pull ourselves out of it and go forward, and start winning more games. If we don’t do that, we’re not gonna be in the position we want to be in. So understanding that starts with the challenge this Monday night, and taking that leap forward.

MMQB: Anything different or special for you about playing on the Monday Night Football stage?

RB: Yeah, growing up, my brother and I, we’d go one-on-one in the living room whenever the song would come on pregame. That’s just a memory that always sticks in my head. We would always be in front of the TV on Monday, making sure we were watching it. It was a routine, a ritual for our family. So it’s definitely special for me playing on Monday night. I just love the atmosphere of it, going out there in front of everyone and trying to perform to the best of your abilities.

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