Brandon Flowers: Pruning The Garden


Hello Chiefs Kingdom! Lucas Hampton here with a different post. I am deviating from my usual Beyond The Border Free Agency series to bring you something else. This is an idea that has been floating around in my head for awhile, ever since the Pro Bowl attendees from each team were announced. Like any die-hard Chiefs fan, I was thrilled to see the large number of Chiefs in the Pro Bowl.

But, I was confused by two things. The first was Derrick Johnson didn’t make it initially (Although he did make it as an alternate to replace an injured Navorro Bowman). The second was the fact that Brandon Flowers was selected to go to Hawaii. I’m not saying that Flowers is a bad player, he’s been our top corner for years and is very talented. But Flowers this season had kind of a down year. He caught only 1 interception and had 65 total tackles. While that was a career high for tackles, it’s also a career low in interceptions for him. While interceptions alone don’t define how good a guy is in coverage, it is telling. This season, Flowers had many moments when he was ineffective, even a liability at times on the field.

The coaching staff tried to compensate by putting him on the inside slot receiver on some plays which should have made his job easier. This effort produced the same results as just leaving him at his usual spot. This is not due to a drop in his talent, he is still a talented corner. This makes me wonder: Does Brandon Flowers fit in the defense that KansasnCity runs right now or did he just have a down year? Let me give you a bit of history here to get you thinking about this. The year is 2008. The Kansas City Chiefs are just two years removed from a playoff exit at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts (Familiar plot line). The draft had arrived and it was around the time of Herm Edwards’ birthday. Carl Peterson, the general manager at the time, had done all the draft day selections.

But when the second round came along, he handed the reigns to the head coach Herm Edwards and let him make any selection that he wanted as a birthday gift. Edwards then promptly selected Brandon Flowers. The 5′ 10″ 190 pound corner from Virginia Tech would fit perfectly in the Cover 2 scheme that he ran in Kansas City. Brandon Carr from Grand Valley State was also taken that draft and the two Brandons would be the Chiefs’ two lockdown corners for a few years to come. Flowers proved to be first round talent and was named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in 2010. In my opinion, that’s the year he should have been sent to the Pro Bowl.

After the disastrous 2008 season where the team went 2-14 and ended up with the 3rd overall pick that draft, Carl Peterson was shown the door and a new man took charge. Yes, THAT man… Scott Pioli. As is the case with nearly every team, a new general manager brings a new head coach and a philosophy change on both sides of the ball. Though the New York Jets retained their head coach despite having a new general manager.  Todd Haley was hired as the new head coach to replace Herm Edwards. Haley brought with him a 3-4 style defensive philosophy. Using free agency and the players currently on the roster, Kansas City did the best with what they had and even spent the 3rd overall pick to select Tyson Jackson (don’t get me started on that one). Flowers was brought up in and fit best in a defense where he played in zone coverage more than man to man coverage. When the defensive change swept across the Chiefs, Flowers was asked to play more man to man defense. Statistically speaking, he actually had his best seasons in the man heavy defense. During this time, I can remember that everyone was saying that Flowers was underrated, admittedly he was for a time.

As time passed his numbers began to decline and less and less hype was generated around Flowers. He seemed to plateau and not get any better. Flowers was further exposed when Pioli, in one of many of his less than stellar personnel decisions, let Brandon Carr walk. To replace him, Stanford Routt was signed. The Routt signing didn’t work out as he was cut literally halfway through the season, leaving Flowers even more exposed without a decent number 2 corner to man the other side of the defensive backfield. When Scott Pioli was fired and Andy Reid came to town, another defensive change came with him.

This time, the Chiefs stuck to a 3-4 as that is what the roster was built for. Reid traditionally ran a 4-3 defense. The main coverage was changed to a press-man coverage which requires a taller and heavier corner to be successful in. Sean Smith who was signed to be the new number 2 corner stands at 6’3″ and weighs 218 pounds and is known for his aggressive man coverage play style. Smith was a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s defense and he performed very well. The next corner in the lineup is the rookie sensation Marcus Cooper, a 7th round choice by the San Francisco 49rs who didn’t make the final roster. John Dorsey saw potential in him and promptly snatched him up. Cooper stands at 6’2″ tall and weighs 190 pounds. The same weight as Flowers but Cooper’s height makes him a better fit than Flowers. So after all that, supposing he doesn’t fit or just had a down year, what is to be done with Brandon Flowers should this be the case?

The most favorable option would be to trade him. Though finding a suitable candidate would be tough. Though one potential trade partner has been identified. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The new coach there is Lovie Smith who runs a Tampa 2 defense which relies heavily on zone coverage. Brandon Flowers would be a good fit there. Working out a trade to get him there would be difficult though. There’s no telling if the Buccaneers would even be interested, they have quite a situation on their hands with Darrelle Revis though. I for one would be all over a Flowers for Revis trade (UPDATE: I WAS all over the trade for Revis idea, but then I saw that he is only 5’11”, so maybe not him despite his immense talent).

The problem with that is that Kansas City is tight on cap space with 2.5 million to work with. Trading Flowers would free up a bit of cap space, it wouldn’t be enough to take on Revis’ paycheck though. There may be other potential trade targets but Tampa Bay remains the most likely option for a trade. Flowers could be straight up released which wouldn’t do much good as he could net a draft pick or two or maybe a pick and a player. Not to mention the Chiefs most likely would take on dead money that they don’t need. Ask Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders about dead money. The next option would be to keep Flowers until his contract expires and let him keep playing where he has been or cut back on his play time to reduce his potential liability factor.

What do the people of Chiefs Kingdom think? Is Flowers no longer a good fit? Was it just a down year? What other options are there if Flowers is a problem?

Before I wrap this up, I want to give a shoutout and a thank you to my friend and fellow writer Matthew Small for talking this subject out with me and for helping explore the various options for Brandon Flowers. As always, Chiefs Kingdom, thanks for reading and…

GO CHIEFS!!!

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