Nate Burleson wants Matthew Stafford to take it up a notch

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson was very candid about what he believes quarterback Matthew Stafford needs to do to succeed in Motown.

Selected in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Nevada, wide receiver Nate Burleson spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. He would then spend four years with the Seattle Seahawks before landing with the Detroit Lions in 2010.

The year before Burleson’s arrival to the Motor City, the Lions possessed the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Detroit selected Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with that selection. During his rookie season, Stafford would struggle and the Lions would post a disappointing 2-14 record.

The following year, Burleson would be added to the receiver corps. Unfortunately, Stafford would play in just three games that season due to a shoulder injury. But the two would play together for a total of four years, from 2010 through 2013.

Flash forward to today and Stafford is still under center for the Lions. He is now heading into his 11th season as a pro. And Detroit has yet to win a playoff game under his watch.

As for Burleson, he retired in 2014 after a short stint with the Cleveland Browns. The 37-year old is now an analyst for the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. 

Having spent four years as a teammate of Stafford, Burleson has an insider’s knowledge of the Lions’ quarterback and his personality. And he believes the veteran passer needs to be more assertive if he wants to take the struggling franchise to new heights.

Burleson actually took the Lions’ quarterback to task in a recent interview about being a better leader. Here’s what he told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press recently.

"“I know [Stafford is] a student of the game and he works out with the guys, but he has to take that up a notch and force guys to come along a lot faster … I hate to say it, for lack of better words, but sometimes you’ve got to be an (expletive) at the quarterback position. And I know he’s not that guy, but when you think about the successful ones, they’ve all had those moments where they were described as such at one point in time.”"

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You have to give Nate Burleson the benefit of the doubt here. Having spent a good portion of his career with Matthew Stafford in Detroit, not many have the insight that he has about the 10-year passer. After being the quarterback of the Lions for over a decade, Stafford should securely have the reins of this team and the respect of his teammates. At this point, lack of leadership should not be an issue. But according to Burleson, it still might be.