There’s not a single reason to doubt Marcus Peters

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02: Running back Samaje Perine
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02: Running back Samaje Perine /

Marcus Peters is a shutdown corner and despite any personal feelings about him, there’s absolutely zero reason to keep him out of the line-up.

If this seems reactionary, well, it is.

This morning, Adam Teicher posited the idea that the Kansas City Chiefs might want to think carefully before automatically re-inserting Marcus Peters into his starting cornerback role. It’s worth a read (even pausing now to go and read it) to hear his argument in full, since our culture’s tendency to read a headline and automatically respond out of emotion is getting us nowhere fast. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.

With that out of the way, let me just say this: the premise is absolutely ridiculous.

I read Teicher’s column with the assumption that he was just asking the question, which is actually a good question. Why did the Chiefs play better defensively without Marcus Peters? It left everyone scratching their heads on Sunday to see Terrance Mitchell resemble the player he was down the stretch in 2016. It was perplexing to see a suddenly capable secondary all over the field on Sunday, when the Chiefs have scrambled for an answer to just one half of the field all year.

In short, the Chiefs went from “Peters and a bumbling, incapable rotation” to “Peters is a luxury.”

It’s natural for Teicher to ask the question given the performance on Sunday, at least on the surface. It’s the same question you’d ask at any other position if another player was missing and the Chiefs seemed to cover for his absence without a problem. In this case, however, lingering too long on the question is silly and Teicher should know better. (He likely does and is just throwing out a hot take sort of column.)

After building his case, Teicher ends with this line, “It’s a mistake for Reid to ignore how things went for the Chiefs without Peters.”

Therein lies the ridiculousness to the argument, the pointing to a single game and saying, “Don’t ignore this!” In so doing, Teicher is himself ignoring a much, much larger data set, one that proposes and supports the position that Marcus Peters is one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks.

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For two full seasons, Chiefs Kingdom has been quite fortunate that Peters fell as far as he did in the first round, to No. 18 overall. For two full seasons, Chiefs fans have watched one player create turnovers at a historic rate, one which cemented him quickly as one of the NFL’s elite young cornerbacks (if not the best young corner overall in the entire league). In addition, his very presence has limited opposing coordinators in their options, knowing they must steer away from his half of the field—lest their quarterback be baited into a bad decision.

Even this year, in this supposed down year more clouded by drama than anything, Peters continues to force turnovers at a decent rate. While it’s certainly not on par with the norms established after his first two years, the reality is that Peters leads the Chiefs in turnovers forced with 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. Chris Jones has 4, for the sake of comparison, and Terrance Mitchell has 3.

Such comparisons are silly in a way because they remove the player from the context he’s in, away from the team he’s a part of, and places him in some vacuum that’s not realistic. However, it’s important that we point to Peters even in a down year like this one and say, “He’s still by far the best on the team.”

There’s no scrubbing away Peters’ ills in 2017 here. I affirm all of that. There are plays where he seems to just stop trying. There’s an inconsistency that rears its head. There’s an inability to channel emotions in proper ways (and I have zero qualms about his behavior during the anthem). The flag throwing, the improper fan interaction, the yelling at coaches—all of it needs to be flushed away immediately.

Yet I also think Peters is aware of this, which is maybe part of the unspoken apologetic tone he reportedly had during and after his one-game suspension. I think Peters himself would like to take back a few moments, both on and off the field. I also think Peters has a real chance to return as a better person and player from this last week of sitting on the bench.

Yet even if he doesn’t, even if we’re “stuck” with the same player as before, we’d be fools to not realize that he is a tremendous asset just as he is. As Adam Teicher might say, “It’s a mistake for us to ignore how things went for the Chiefs with Peters these last three years.”