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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