Chiefs Defensive Backfield: A Greatest Hits Club

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The Chiefs are forming a club. A greatest hits club. And it’s made up of all DBs.

Brandon Flowers has always been known for his coverage skills but many people don’t know he is usually stout against the run, with perhaps 2012 being an exception. Dunta Robinson is probably more known for his ability to hit than to cover. Eric Berry, in his two out of three years of participation in the league has established a solid a rep: bad-ass (pardon em moi). Both Sean Smith and Kendrick Lewis have been known to make big hits. Rookie newcomer Sanders Commings comes from one of the hardest hitting college defenses last season: the Georgia Bulldogs.

In decades gone by the Chiefs have had quite a club of some of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the game: Emmitt Thomas, Gary Barbaro, Deron Cherry, Kevin Ross, Albert Lewis, Dale Carter, Gary Green, Martin Bayless, Jim Kearney, Reggie Tongue, Jerome Woods and James Hasty. Now, the 2013 Chiefs will be again be returning several defensive backs to the greatest hits club.

  • You can argue that Eric Berry had a challenge covering tight ends in 2012 but, he got better as the year went along and no one will argue he returned from his injury in 2011 with any less pop in the hitting department.
  • You can argue Dunta Robinson was at times a liability in coverage for the Falcons in 2012 but no one can deny that he still plays “lights out’ when it comes to tackling and… making contact.
  • You can say Brandon Flowers had a down year in 2012 but he was still 6th on the team in tackles with 48… a team that produced 4 Pro Bowl players in front of him. Not only can Brandon lay a hit but, as Pro Football Focus said, “There are very few cornerbacks who allow only half the passes thrown their way to be caught, and Flowers was one of those players… In over half of his games, he allowed less than 25 receiving yards, and never allowed 100 yards in a game… he could play on my team any day.”
  • You can argue that Kendrick Lewis lost something in 2012 because of his shoulder injury which led to him missing 7 games but, you’d likely be over looking the fact that he stepped in for Eric Berry admirably in 2011 and with another off season to heal he should return to pre-injury form: excellent hitter. Plus. Lewis is in a contract year and many players have the tendency to hit the gas… or the ball carrier… when it comes time to talk money.
  • You can argue that something must be wrong with Sean Smith if the Dolphins let him get away. Then again you could also argue there’s something wrong with Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland for allowing it to happen. Smith has averaged 52 tackles per season in his 4 year career. PFF says, “Smith brings size (6-foot-4) and the ability to be physical and aggressive….” His 6-4, 215 lb. frame and position flexibility should be a perfect fit for Bob Sutton’s “jack-of-all-trades” defense as described by Kalo Phoenix of Arrowhead Pride.
  • You can argue that off the field issues makes Sanders Commings more of a person to watch out for than a player to watch. However, legal issues aside, Commings is known for his position flexibility and his excellent body positioning while engaging a ball carrier at the point of attack. This kid can hit!

You can take away several conclusions when evaluating the Chiefs defensive backs as a collection that has been hand crafted by GM John Dorsey and HC Andy Reid:

1) Hitting- they can all play… smash mouth, ring your bell, lay a lick, deliver a wallop (had to go old school on you because afterall… I am old school) and rip em a new one… style defense. You get the idea. These Chiefs DBs can pack a punch. It appears that Andy Reid intends to punish any receiver who catches a ball in the Chiefs defensive backfield. When Chiefs DBs make a hit we should see a lot of unique mid-air Circ de Soleil style poses by unsuspecting receivers this year. Bring your opera glasses and a fan for this season promises the opportunity for you to catch up on your ballet, though it may involve a few opposing broken bodies.

2) Adaptability- this group of DBs gives coaches the opportunity to mix and match personnel from week to week like never before. It also allows the Chiefs to avoid having a QB target a specific DB because so many will be interchangeable. Don’t you wish you could have a car that transformed into a 40 foot tall piece of  military machinery with the push of a button. Yes, I played with Transformers too. That’s exactly what the Kansas City Chiefs coaches have the ability to do this season. It’s not only going to make predicting defensive alignments by opposing QB’s very difficult but, completing a pass is going to be a much tougher job simply because the Chiefs whole defense will be tougher to figure out and  tougher (see #1).

3) Speed Attack- big hitters with speed equals the ability to attack the QB with blitzes like never before.

The Chiefs defensive backfield 40 times coming out of college:

4.42- Brandon Flowers

4.39- Sean Smith

4.26- Dunta Robinson

4.57- Kendrick Lewis

4.35- Eric Berry

4.34- Sanders Commings

4.42- Jalil Brown

4.35- Quintin Demps, FA

4.55- Husain Abdullah, FA

4.50- Brad McDougald, UDFA

4.38- Otha Foster, UDFA

4.34- Neiko Thorpe, UDFA

When 9 out of 12 players in the Chiefs current defensive backfield runs a 4.42 or better in the 40… then they should be able to get wherever they want to go anytime they want to go there. Consequently, Bob Sutton’s attacking style defense should be a perfect fit for this personnel grouping.

I’ve listed this before but, it’s worth viewing if you haven’t already… and that is Otha Foster’s big hitting game-by-game highlights. Take a peak. It’s all very Eric Berry-esk.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Foster makes the 53 man roster and starts some games by year’s end. He looks that good to me. Then again, he could get cut next week.

I would also not be surprised if Kendrick Lewis is the odd man out moving forward. If he does get cut or released it probably won’t happen until training camp but, this group of players is that good. Lewis $1,374,725 cap number may be more than the team wants to invest in a DB with his production so far.

No, the coverage skills of this defensive backfield was not the point of this post. However, their coverage skills are far above average as a group compared to other teams in the league and it is their hitting ability that should be noted here. That’s what will help to shape the overall defining elements of this team… staunchness, fearlessness and tenacity.

There will be many times this season when the defensive backfield is setting the tone for the whole team. By doing so… look for linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali to be improved too. Now that’s a scary proposition… for the opposition.

And that… is exactly what Andy Reid had in mind when he took this job on January 4th.

Okay Addicts, what do you think of the Chiefs new greatest hits club?

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