Chiefs' Secondary: Can They Be The Best?


Last Wednesday, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers made an appearance on NFL Network’s NFL AM. He had this to say about future possibilities for the team’s secondary:

We going out there trying to have the best secondary. Sean Smith is a big corner that can bump and run … we brought in Dunta Robinson, someone who can come in and cover. Also, [safety] Eric Berry is always roaming on the back end. If we put it all together, man, I think we have the pieces to be the best secondary in the NFL.

That’s quite a lofty claim for a secondary in 2012 that contributed to the surrender of more passing touchdowns than twenty-five other defenses (29 TDs). In fairness though, the offseason additions of free agents Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, and draftee Sanders Commings make this a much more talented group. On paper, this should be an improved secondary. There are reasons for pause though. Smith can be wildly inconsistent at times and Robinson’s diminishing skills may be the reason he’s eventually relegated to safety. As cliche as it sounds, “there are no guarantees in the NFL.”

You won’t be inspired by the 2012 performances of Kansas City’s two free agent cornerback aquisitions. Sean Smith received a -3.6 grade from Pro Football Focus last season. Dunta Robinson allowed the fifth-highest passer rating and the fifth-highest yardage total in the league. One of the two figures to be the starter opposite of Flowers (Smith for my money). The other will mostly likely play Nickelback. A decision on where they’ll play should come during or shortly after the Chiefs break camp in St. Joseph, Missouri.

A third player, more nondescript than the former two names, was actually the first addition to the new defensive backfield. Safety Husain Abdullah spent the 2012 season on a Hajj (a religious pilgrammage to Mecca, Saudia Arabia). Between the three, he’s played the best football of late, registering +6.9 and +3.1 grades with PFF in 2010 and 2011, respectively. That said, he’ll need time to get readjusted to the NFL after a year away from football. Rookie cornerback/safety Sanders Commings will have a learning curve as well. Simply put, it may take some time for this group to work up to Flowers’ vision.

Veteran corner Brandon Flowers is arguably the only dependable defensiveback on the team right now. Flowers was ranked the league’s 75th-best player on NFLN’s ‘Top 100 Players of 2013′ list. Through five years of PFF analysis, he’s been the third-best cornerback in the NFL over that span (with an impressive +40.9 grade). Pro Football Focus was also generous in their assessment of his 2012 performance, pegging him the league’s 7th-best cornerback last year. Flowers will walk the talk this season, but as a group I’m not convinced they can be “the best” in 2013.

The old faces are as much a mixed bag as the new ones. Eric Berry, for one reason or another, hasn’t been able to put a full season of good football together yet. Kendrick Lewis has had a devil of a time staying healthy. Where he has played, he’s been as erratic as he’s been effective. I expect Jalil Brown to make the team because he’s become a valuable member of the special teams coverage unit. Defensively, he’ll probably be in competition with Sanders Commings for a spot in sub-packages.

Flowers made a reasonable statement and in time he could be right about the Chiefs’ secondary. I’m not convinced that they’re currently as good as the secondaries in Seattle, Tampa Bay, Denver, or San Francisco though. With a few breaks in 2013, they’ll definitely be one of the best groups in the NFL. The Chiefs’ early season schedule will provide quick answers. Three consecutive NFC East games should be the perfect litmus test for where the secondary stands in the opening quarter of the season. I can’t wait to see if Brandon Flowers is as good a prognosticator as he is a cover corner.

Do you think Flowers’ ideas about Kansas City’s secondary are realistic? Use the comment section below to chime in. As always, we appreciate your readership and continued support!

Until next time, Addicts!

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  • Altarium

    Realistic? No. But I like that the confidence and desire to be the best secondary is there.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I like their chances. Sutton plays a lot of man and Sean Smith excels in press coverage. He’ll win the starting job over Robinson. The question will be the Nickelback spot. I HATE the idea of Robinson playing there. He’s just not fast enough to keep up with those smaller, quicker WR’s anymore.

  • Chris Tarrants

    I think they have the skills to be the best secondary in the league. Last year does not indicate anything, given that the defense was on the field 65% of the time and they were gassed! Bring in the new guys who are all better than Routt was. Also consider that Berry will be coming back 100% for the first time since his rookie year. The chiefs stock is headed up, up and away

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Did you see the opener last year? I was at that game. We were productive offensively through the first 30 minutes of the game, possessed the ball longer, and that defense still got torched. One of the members of the Atlanta secondary who took the worst beating (at the hands of Dexter McCluster of all people) now plays for the Chiefs. On paper, they’re better. Until they hit the field though, that’s purely hypothetical.

      • Chuck Burrell

        Agreed

      • Chris Tarrants

        So do you not see the new guys being better than last year given that even with his size Smith should be playing second fiddle to Flowers. Robinson can cover the slot and lean on the backers to aid him on the speedsters. IMO if we can get these guys to do their jobs correctly who does that leave in the secondary? That would leave Berry to ball hawk like he did in college, lots of picks and lots of big bone jarring hits

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I’m simply saying that until we see it on the field, it’s all on paper. Last year I was convinced the Chiefs would make the playoffs. I was also confident Jon Baldwin would take a big step forward. We all know how that turned out. I believe they will be better, but until the real bullets start flying…

  • Chuck Burrell

    I see Robinson and Smith playing corner and flowers sliding inside on 3 WR sets. I feel we match up best with the donkeys this way as flowers is much better than the other two in coverage (covering Welker) and his downfall over the past few years has been having been reached over the top on WR with more size (Thomas and Decker). Either way, much of this season will come down to whether or not Suttons defense can get to the QB and our QB takes care of the ball.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      So Robinson plays who? Thomas? Decker? NO THANKS!

      • Chuck Burrell

        Decker. Would you rather have him on Welker? I think not

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I’d rather he not be on the field. I hope Commings plays in the sub-packages.

          • Chuck Burrell

            If that’s the case then we are wasting $4.6 mill a year on a guy riding the pine. That makes no sense

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Won’t bother me if he’s not the best man for the job at corner. I’ve said all along he’d be best served at safety (where I think he’d be an upgrade over Lewis).

    • Suzi Conger

      And whether AS11 is protected so he can take care of the ball; he has already demonstrated he knows how to take care of the ball….

  • stephan costa

    What was he suppose to say? I am glad he feels that way. If there is a position that needs supreme conference and a short term memory its cb. I do believe our secondary is much improved and I think we will match up better against our division foes but I also think it will take some time to acclamate all the new faces on both sides of the ball. But I sure hope he’s close in his prediction. We need it to contend for the AFC west crown

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Make no mistake, I’m glad the players are expecting more of themselves than they had been under the previous regime.

      • stephan costa

        When you look up the word homer in the dictionary you see Bart Simpsons dad and a picture of me wearing my Chiefs hat. I’ve been thinking this was the chiefs year every year since I was 7 years old. I was born in February of 70′. Under the Chiefs reign as champs. The running joke has been if I die in December put all your $ on the Chiefs to win it all because nobody has a sense of humor like the big guy upstairs. Here’s to hoping I am wrong and get to finally enjoy Chief supremacy and drop that stupid joke forever in the very near future

  • Calchiefsfan

    Very optimistic to think they can be the best at this point. Flowers said “trying to be” which of course all secondary’s are trying to be. I have serious doubts about Smith and Robinson, both have major flaws. The secondary is my major concern for the Chiefs, more so than the D line.
    Both Flowers and Berry will be awesome this year. I’m hoping Abdullah steps up and surprises us. We are stronger than last year but no way close to the best unless both Smith and Robinson have the best year of their careers.

  • Joe Myers

    Afc champ game berry intercepts a would be game winning field goal from the denver broncos at arrowhead . Sending us to meet the packers February of next year this is my prediction …..oh and we will be superbowl champs . 14-2 losses to the texans and chargers .

    • ladner morse

      Wow. That’s all I can say… wow!

      • Joe Myers

        That’s what I said too lol

  • KCMikeG

    You said quarter of the season…..

  • ladner morse

    Jason, nice take on the defensive backfield.
    Here’s my short take

    Flowers is the obvious #1. Sean Smith might be a #2 but I’m going to have to wait and see how he fits into Sutton scheme. Robinson’s current skill set seems to be best suited to Safety. Commings may best be a Safety too. Abdullah will likely take 1/2 a year for it all to come back. Brown can be good at times but is not consistent enough to be a regular.Lewis will be a wait and see if he comes back from a shoulder situation. I expect Abdullah to beat him out. Berry will put together his best year yet and whoever is on the field with him is going to look good because of his elevated play. Overall it looks like the Chiefs have no one to specifically suited to play the nickel. Arenas was average but, I’m not sure there’s anyone on this roster who will cover there as good as he did in 2012. The Chiefs have more bodies to throw at the offense in the defensive backfield. and I’m hoping for a top ten DB group.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I was disappointed when Arenas was traded. I thought he was a solid nickel who was pretty good at getting after the quarterback. Hopefully someone emerges there.

      • ladner morse

        Agreed… Arenas 4 a FB was not the best move they’ve made.

  • Kurt Rauch

    And that is not to mention what the success of the defensive front–and defensive pressure in general–means to the relative success, or greatness, of the secondary.

  • ArrowFan

    It all depends on how much regular preasure our guys up front can apply. When Manning or any QB for that matter with few exceptions, has all day they can find someone. However apply preasure and Manning or any QB for that matter with no exceptions will make mistakes.