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Basileus777
09-29-2010, 12:41 PM
Year Three -- Brandon Flowers

One of the most important edicts at Football Outsiders is that we do not share a hive mind. That applies to what we see in the stats and what shows up on tape, and it definitely applies to preseason predictions. Having spent the first third of this year's St. Louis Rams chapter in Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 explaining the statistical funkiness that prompted the exceedingly positive projection last year ... well, you will excuse me if I wasn't drinking the barbecue sauce with this year's exceedingly positive projection for the Kansas City Chiefs. As much as that projection reflected a decline for the San Diego Chargers and perhaps a division win by default, I didn't think the Chiefs had that much going for them. But here they stand at 3-0, with the second-best DVOA in the NFL (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2010/week-3-dvoa-ratings), and playoff odds (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/playoffodds) that are absolutely off the hook. This time, the shoe seems to fit.

One of the few established bastions of excellence on the Chiefs' roster before this year was cornerback Brandon Flowers (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/15838/brandon-flowers), whom Kansas City took in the second round of the 2008 draft after he excelled at Virginia Tech. He gained a reputation for playing bigger than you'd expect at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, and this has transferred to his NFL career. In his rookie season, he ranked third in the league among qualifying defensive backs in Adjusted Yards per Pass and 17th in Success Rate. He picked up 35 Stops, 16 Defeats, 11 passes defensed, and two interceptions. Those got a lot of attention, coming as they did against the Jets and some guy named Brett Favre (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/15811/brett-favre) ... and one of them was a 91-yard pick-six.


That said, Flowers was just warming up. Through he played through a shoulder injury in 2009, he upped his interception total to five and his passes defensed to 19. This was also despite serious issues at the safety position and a non-existent pass rush. Two new faces -- defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and first-round safety Eric Berry (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/24310/eric-berry) -- came on board to help, and so far, the results have been tremendous. I spoke to Flowers recently about Kansas City's hot start, and I asked him to sum up the personalities and philosophies of the three different defensive coordinators who have helped him to this point.

"Gunther (Cunningham) was a really intense guy -- he also coached the linebackers, and he was a hard-nosed, old-school coach who prepared you physically and mentally for the game," Flowers said. "He was a real hands-on guy, being in your face and getting you coached up and fired up. Clancy Pendergast brought the 3-4 in -- more of a finesse defense that put pressure on quarterbacks. Clancy was a laid-back type of guy, but well-respected. When he spoke, everybody listened. His approach was to blitz a lot of linebackers to get that pressure.

"Romeo is a player's coach. He's always laughing and joking around. He's not too different on the back end (coverage concepts), but it's just a different overall scheme to get pressure. He focuses on the entire defense, which makes it great for those guys who haven't played for him before, and the ones just coming in."
I then asked Flowers to take me through his reads and the coverage concepts, on the second interception touchdown of his career, which came in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. My impression was that the Browns and quarterback Seneca Wallace (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/17130/seneca-wallace) were dusting off a route combo out of the West Coast playbook Wallace used to thumb through when he and Browns president Mike Holmgren were in Seattle.

The pick came with 10:11 left in the first half, and this seemed on the surface to be more a matter of bad mechanics than bad decision-making. The Seneca Wallace (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/17130/seneca-wallace) I saw in Seattle was not a quarterback who could afford to make off-balance throws -- as long as he was either safe in the pocket or rolling out (where he's probably at his best), things were going to be OK. But he's not a quarterback like Philip Rivers or Jay Cutler, who can consistently make great throws out of ugly stances.

<table class="inline-diagram-right"> <tbody><tr> <td align="center">Figure 1: Seneca Wallace (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/17130/seneca-wallace) Interception</td> </tr> <tr> <td>
</td> </tr> </tbody></table> http://www.footballoutsiders.com/images/Cover3/Cover3-092910-1.jpg

On the play (Fig. 1), the Chiefs appeared to line up in a two-deep, man-under look with Flowers (24) on Brian Robiskie (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/22408/brian-robiskie) (80). The important aspect of the interception was how well Flowers played Robiskie at first, and then how he shifted his attention to receiver Chansi Stuckey (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/17005/chansi-stuckey) (83), who ran a short sideline route out of the slot. Flowers handed Robiskie off to the safety Eric Berry (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/24310/eric-berry), eyed Wallace all the way, and jumped the route for the touchdown. This is a staple route combination for any offense -- using a wideout to clear a tight cornerback for a shorter slot receiver's gain -- but it's rendered null and void when the cornerback in question can read the play as well as Flowers does in this case.

It's clear that Wallace's throw was odd. After a dropback and a quick fake upfield, he sort of side-armed the ball to Stuckey, and aside from a short headfake, he was telegraphing it. He appeared to be off balance on the throw, didn't throw the ball right where Stuckey was, and presented an easy opportunity for the interception.

That was my perception. The reality came from Flowers.
"We actually switched to a zone type of defense," he said. "(Defensive backs coach) Emmitt Thomas does a great job preparing us week in, week out. The idea, like you said, was to clear out the corner and dump off to the flat so that the receiver can make a gain of about five to 10 yards. I got a good jam on Robiskie, and handed him off to Eric Berry (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/24310/eric-berry), who's over the top. I'm reading the No. 2 receiver (Stuckey) the whole time. I see him come to the flat, Wallace is winding up to throw the ball, and I made the play."

Flowers told me that although Wallace did telegraph the throw, the real key was how the Chiefs disguised the coverage. "The pre-snap read was that we were going to be in some type of man defense," Flowers said. "He thought it would be cleared out on that play, and I dropped back like I was going to play off-man. Eric Berry (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/player/24310/eric-berry) did a great job on that play; coming up and making it look like a box-and-one. Once the ball was snapped, Eric dropped back deep, and we basically switched roles. (Wallace) thought it would be wide open in the flat, and it wasn't."

Flowers has the rare combination of situation awareness, ridiculous athleticism, and "right place/right time" sense common to the best at his position. If he isn't around the top of that list just yet, it seems a matter of time the more you watch him play. After the Chiefs took it to the 49ers in Week 3, San Francisco's Alex Smith would probably agree (http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d81ad4d36/Flowers-INT).

One thing that's been reinforced when I talk to players about strategy is that designating a defense as this or that with some sort of definitive stamp is generally a huge mistake. These things go deeper than I could have imagined just a few years ago. Players (well, players not named Albert Haynesworth) think about far more than 3-4/4-3, zone or man, how much they're targeted, or whether their coordinator likes to blitz a lot -- that's only the beginning.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/cover-3/2010/cover-3-around-corner

kysirsoze
09-29-2010, 12:42 PM
I'm sure it's interesting but I'm just not reading that.

Detoxing
09-29-2010, 12:47 PM
I'm sure it's interesting but I'm just not reading that.

Go read it.

It's a great read.

SNR
09-29-2010, 12:49 PM
I'm sure it's interesting but I'm just not reading that.Do you not like reading interesting stuff?

We've got tons of boring Teicher articles lying around here for you to peruse if that's your thing.

Lzen
09-29-2010, 12:50 PM
That was great stuff. Love it.

Virtua Chief
09-29-2010, 01:01 PM
Yeah that was cool, good stuff.

Delano
09-29-2010, 01:37 PM
Flowers is on Rome now.

ct
09-29-2010, 01:43 PM
I'm sure it's interesting but I'm just not reading that.

So instead you took the time to open the thread and tell everyone i'm not reading that. mmmk

Brandon Flowers will be in the pro bowl this year, he is getting some serious props, and like it or not, that's what it's all about for pro bowl voting. Doubt he'll be starting, but I think he'll be there. Unless of course we're heading to the super bowl! :)

KCUnited
09-29-2010, 01:47 PM
Flowers is on Rome now.

lol, he shops at Wal-Mart every 2 weeks. "I'm in love with Wal-Mart."

Hoover
09-29-2010, 01:54 PM
This is an awesome article. Gives great insight to the defense, and what the addition of Berry really means to a playmaker like Flowers.

CaliforniaChief
09-29-2010, 01:57 PM
It is very good stuff. Good, solid, football strategy.

It's so interesting how when you really understand defense...team defense...you understand that while Flowers made the play, Berry's sell of the box and one convinced Wallace that Stuckey would be open.

OnTheWarpath58
09-29-2010, 02:03 PM
It is very good stuff. Good, solid, football strategy.

It's so interesting how when you really understand defense...team defense...you understand that while Flowers made the play, Berry's sell of the box and one convinced Wallace that Stuckey would be open.

Yep.

Even if you know what to look for and have the ability to spot that coverage, TV broadcasts make it almost impossible.

Another reason why I love sitting in the upper deck end zones.

KCrockaholic
09-29-2010, 02:09 PM
Great stuff there.

PunkinDrublic
09-29-2010, 02:21 PM
That's why the 49er game was so fun to watch. I haven't seen a dominating performance like that from a Chiefs cornerback since Dale Carter in his prime. But even back then Dale would get beat deep on occasion.

the Talking Can
09-29-2010, 02:31 PM
great read


and evidence that Berry is doing vet things that obvious to the fan...

Bane
09-29-2010, 02:34 PM
Awesome read!Flowers is the man!
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DrRyan
09-29-2010, 02:46 PM
Great read. With the way Carr has played so far this year and the visible improvement in Arenas game to game this secondary may be down right beastly for years to come. Everyone, sans Petro, sees Berry as the real deal as well. I absolutely loved the Flowers and Berry picks as soon as their names were read and even more with each game they play. Lock down secondary is a beautiful thing. Now just imagine if we can get a legit #1 pass rusher to put opposite of Hali.

Oregon chief
09-29-2010, 02:56 PM
What are the highlights from his Rome interview?

KCUnited
09-29-2010, 02:59 PM
What are the highlights from his Rome interview?
I didn't catch the whole interview, but I caught him saying that he knew he was banged up and needed surgery in the offseason and that the Chiefs were 3-12 going into Denver with nothing to play for and instead of sitting out he wanted play and finish the season with his teammates who had been there together from camp. Pretty cool. Oh, and he loves Wal-Mart.

ReynardMuldrake
09-29-2010, 03:05 PM
Great read! Thanks for posting.

Lzen
09-29-2010, 03:06 PM
It is very good stuff. Good, solid, football strategy.

It's so interesting how when you really understand defense...team defense...you understand that while Flowers made the play, Berry's sell of the box and one convinced Wallace that Stuckey would be open.

And what this all underscores is that Crennel was a great hire.

Molitoth
09-29-2010, 03:12 PM
Bravo to Football outsiders. That was a great read.

yeti
09-29-2010, 03:15 PM
Gunther sucked. Clancy sucked, Romeo is da shiz.

Fritz88
09-29-2010, 03:26 PM
It is very good stuff. Good, solid, football strategy.

It's so interesting how when you really understand defense...team defense...

It makes enjoying this game way more.
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Oregon chief
09-29-2010, 03:26 PM
I didn't catch the whole interview, but I caught him saying that he knew he was banged up and needed surgery in the offseason and that the Chiefs were 3-12 going into Denver with nothing to play for and instead of sitting out he wanted play and finish the season with his teammates who had been there together from camp. Pretty cool. Oh, and he loves Wal-Mart.

Thanks

Toadkiller
09-29-2010, 03:28 PM
Fantastic article, love Romeo even more after reading it, if that was possible.

InChiefsHell
09-29-2010, 03:29 PM
That was hands down the best article posted here in a long time. Actual defensive strategy...I know some stuff, but when it comes to the pro game, even college, it's way above my head. This is very very interesting to me...great post! I wonder if they will be doing these types of articles more often, or do they do these all the time?

Demonpenz
09-29-2010, 03:35 PM
alot of people are making a hot fuss over his play

Basileus777
09-29-2010, 03:43 PM
That was hands down the best article posted here in a long time. Actual defensive strategy...I know some stuff, but when it comes to the pro game, even college, it's way above my head. This is very very interesting to me...great post! I wonder if they will be doing these types of articles more often, or do they do these all the time?

Doug Farrar writes a "Cover 3" article like this weekly.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/cover-3

blazzin311
09-29-2010, 06:01 PM
Great read...lots of good insight there. :clap:

ChiefGator
09-29-2010, 07:00 PM
Great read. With the way Carr has played so far....

I think next two weeks we really find out how good Carr is. I think the Colts are going to start out by trying to pick on him and/or Arenas. And I expect Houston will try to pick on Carr.

So far, I am very excited about how it appears to be playing though. If he can step up his game and be a very good CB, we are really set in the defensive backfied.

crossbow
09-29-2010, 07:05 PM
Great thread ! It could silence talk-show idiots that claim Berry is crapping his pants. In reality it illistrates what Berry allows the coaches to do because of his great skills. This team's secondary could be special for a long time. And to think that they are only going to get even better as the season progresses. Scary!!!

Count Alex's Wins
09-29-2010, 07:07 PM
Cliff notes: Seneca Wallace is dumb, Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers are smart.

KC Tattoo
09-29-2010, 07:19 PM
I've bragged and bragged about Brandon Flowers. I just hope QBs don't learn any thing from film studdy and keep throwing his way. Reallity Carr is going to have to put it in another gear cuz they are going to be gunning his way.

Halfcan
09-29-2010, 07:31 PM
Flowers is having a Pro bowl type year so far-lets hope he can pick 6 Manigina and the Colts!!

Pablo
09-29-2010, 07:50 PM
alot of people are making a hot fuss over his playHe's really got killer instinct.

ChiefsCountry
09-29-2010, 07:52 PM
Yep.

Even if you know what to look for and have the ability to spot that coverage, TV broadcasts make it almost impossible.

Another reason why I love sitting in the upper deck end zones.


NFL needs to sell film from that view online. You know enough football junkies would pay for it.

Case in point - Cassel touchdown to McCluster. I thought and everybody around me thought it was going to be picked off. On the tv it looked totaly different than in the stadium. My whole section had the oh shit then cheer thing.

Ebolapox
09-29-2010, 07:59 PM
alot of people are making a hot fuss over his play

he's a real killer. somebody told me he's the best corner in the league. I don't know much, but I know this...when everyone's lost, the battle is won. with all that he has done.

Count Alex's Wins
09-29-2010, 08:05 PM
What song are you guys quoting?

boogblaster
09-29-2010, 08:13 PM
yep decent article

siberian khatru
09-29-2010, 08:26 PM
http://fc05.deviantart.com/fs39/f/2008/344/c/9/I_jizz_in_my_pants_by_HOLIMOUNT.jpg

Hog Farmer
09-29-2010, 08:57 PM
I didn't see where this article mentioned Cassel sucks!

Gonzo
09-29-2010, 09:58 PM
Good article. Stuff like this really makes me want to open the fucking fridge and grab that goddamned kool-aid. I've been wanting to believe that this team is as good as all the talking heads on ESPN and NFLN say they are. Flowers is the shut down corner we've been waiting on since Hasty.
This secondary could very well end up being the best in the league not only this year, but for the next five.
Carr's got his shit together, Arenas is just going to get better and Berry has improved 50% since week one and has shown me why we drafted him so high.
That's it, gimme that pitcher... Ooooh yeeeah!
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philfree
09-29-2010, 10:05 PM
Another thing about our 2ndary is that when Travis Daniels or Donald Washington have been on the field we haven't noticed.

I expect to see INTs from guys other then Flowers in the next few games.

PhilFree:arrow:

DBOSHO
09-29-2010, 10:53 PM
he's a real killer. somebody told me he's the best corner in the league. I don't know much, but I know this...when everyone's lost, the battle is won. with all that he has done.

Eye sea whut yhu did thar

DBOSHO
09-29-2010, 10:53 PM
What song are you guys quoting?

All these things that ive done.

One of my favorites

DBOSHO
09-29-2010, 10:55 PM
Qbs dont believe the myth that bflow can read their minds.

I know, not as good.