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Old 09-29-2010, 11:41 AM  
Basileus777 Basileus777 is offline
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Football Outsiders on Brandon Flowers

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, and playoff odds 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, 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 ... 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 -- 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 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 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.

Figure 1: Seneca Wallace Interception



On the play (Fig. 1), the Chiefs appeared to line up in a two-deep, man-under look with Flowers (24) on 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 (83), who ran a short sideline route out of the slot. Flowers handed Robiskie off to the safety 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, 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 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.

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/cov...-around-corner

Last edited by Basileus777; 09-29-2010 at 11:57 AM..
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:42 AM   #2
kysirsoze kysirsoze is offline
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I'm sure it's interesting but I'm just not reading that.
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kysirsoze View Post
I'm sure it's interesting but I'm just not reading that.
Go read it.

It's a great read.
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:49 AM   #4
SNR SNR is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kysirsoze View Post
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.
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I would read an entire blog of SNR breaking down athletes' musical capabilities like draft scouting reports.
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Old 09-29-2010, 11:50 AM   #5
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That was great stuff. Love it.
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:01 PM   #6
Virtua Chief Virtua Chief is offline
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Yeah that was cool, good stuff.
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:37 PM   #7
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kysirsoze View Post
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!
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:47 PM   #9
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Flowers is on Rome now.
lol, he shops at Wal-Mart every 2 weeks. "I'm in love with Wal-Mart."
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:54 PM   #10
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This is an awesome article. Gives great insight to the defense, and what the addition of Berry really means to a playmaker like Flowers.
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Old 09-29-2010, 12:57 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CaliforniaChief View Post
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.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:09 PM   #13
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Great stuff there.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:21 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 09-29-2010, 01:31 PM   #15
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great read


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