It’s no secret linebacker Donald Butler underperformed last year. After signing a $51.8 million deal prior to the 2014 season, Butler’s play was mediocre at best. His role gradually decrease throughout the season, even so much that Eric Weddle took over play calling duties after Butler was relegated to just the Chargers’ base defense.
Following the conclusion of Monday’s voluntary practice, Butler addressed the media for the first time since last season (more like early Fall) and acknowledged his poor play, his outlook going forward, what it’s been like working with new linebackers coach Mike Nolan, and the high hopes he has for a young linebacker corps:
On what his focus was this offseason: “I think just getting back to the player I know I can be. I think last year was disappointing but I’m healthy again (he admitted to having a “couple” offseason surgeries but didn’t disclose what those were) and focusing on 2015 so I’m ready to go.
On whether or not “injuries” hindered his play last season: “That’s not the reason why I played bad. I think the reason why I played bad was I just played bad. It happens. Like I said, I’m ready for this year though and ready to get after it.”
On whether or not he felt added pressure to perform after signing the $51.8 million deal before the season: “No, I think more than anything, it’s about going out there and representing the name on the back of your jersey and I felt like I didn’t do that well enough. I’m my own worst critic.”
On what it’s been like working with new linebackers coach Mike Nolan: “Coach Nolan’s great. I think the biggest thing he talks about is just making sure that each one of us is five or 10 percent better and then that five or 10 percent equates to five or 10 more plays. Or maybe two or three more plays, big plays that maybe last year you didn’t make. He’s definitely fine-tuning the little things, working with us in the classroom, out there on the field, and is just steadily on us in terms of doing those little things that make us better.”
On what he’s seen from a young linebacker corps: “We’re a young group. We’re hungry. I don’t think any of us necessarily finished (last year) where we wanted to so there’s room for improvement for every single one of us. That’s what Coach Nolan is really pushing on us. ‘Every day you come out here, let’s work and let’s get better.’”
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)