When the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive scheme was switched this last season, it had a positive affect on the majority of the team. It saw guys like Justin Houston really come into their own and flourish.
It did not, however, have a positive effect on some of the guys in the secondary. Kendrick Lewis, who was always just an above average safety, saw himself struggle a bit which led to the Chiefs having no interest in bringing him back.
The defensive system also did not cooperate with corner Brandon Flowers.
Flowers saw himself go from a pro bowler to being shredded apart, much like most of the Chiefs’ secondary last season when they faced any of the upper echelon quarterbacks of the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers graded out at a dismal -5.9 overall and -9.8 in coverage.
It was clear the Chiefs’ once reliable number one corner seemingly turned league chump overnight just did not fit in the Bob Sutton scheme. Flowers was never the best in the league, but he was always a staple to be a solid number one and make the pro bowl. Are those years over for Flowers or will he resurrect his career elsewhere?
For the Chiefs, the Flowers days are over, as are the Kendrick Lewis. The Sean Smith days just got started last year and were not impressive to say the least, and with his recent drinking and driving accident, do not be shocked if he is missing for a few games to start the season. Where do the Chiefs go from here?
That is a question that many within the organization would have a different answer to. The front seven is in tact, and could be one of the best in the league this year. The back four of the defense (besides Eric Berry) is the question mark.
I have said it in multiple articles: in a division with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, to not have a solid secondary spells disaster. Guys like Marcus Cooper will be in contention for the starting spot now, and if anyone remembers what Manning did to Cooper last season, that is not a comforting thought.
Cooper was the main culprit of Eric Decker’s 174-yard, 4 touchdown performance. Let’s not forget that Cooper is a young guy and has a lot of growing to do. He showed signs that he could be a good corner, but whenever he played against a QB that could thread the needle, there was no threading the needle against him, he just left his man uncovered by 10 yards at a time.
Another guy to watch is Phillip Gaines. The 3rd round draft pick from Rice just got a whole lot more important with this cut. He will be expected to come in and immediately contribute. There will be no babying of Gaines, he will come in and be thrown into the lion’s den right away, there is no way around it. This kid is about to grow up a whole lot quicker than anyone initially thought he would have to.
Other possibilities would include veteran Chris Houston who was also just cut by the Detroit Lions. This would be a logical fit and makes a lot of since. Health and money are two issues that would have to be addressed before anything though.
Looking back on it, the Chiefs had to have figured this might have been in the cards for awhile now, which makes it even more baffling that they passed on Darqueze Dennard, who I have been high on since day one.
To look back even further, Brandon Carr wanted Brandon Flowers money, but the Chiefs chose to give Flowers the money and let Carr walk. Look how that has turned out. There must be a master plan behind the chaos, but what is it? Only time will tell, but when it comes to addressing the secondary, the Chiefs have failed miserably for years now besides the Eric Berry pick.
There is no more looking back on it now, the time is now for this young and prospering team to make a run. There is nothing Chiefs fans can do right now besides put full faith into Andy Reid and hope- no not hope- pray and pray lots that there is logic behind the madness that is going on.
The fact is that it is time for Eric Berry to not just be a big time in-the-box safety, he will now be assigned with being the anchor of this secondary. If there is anyone in the league that can do it, Berry can.
Berry is going to be asked to do big things, actually he will be asked to do everything, it is time for Berry to go from a really really good safety, to a great safety. It is time for Berry to take the leap, and bet on it that he will.
If the Chiefs come out this year and take a step back, especially in the secondary, there will be lots questioning the lack of ability to address the secondary this offseason, and possibly make it worse than it was. For now though, it is time to sit back and watch these young guys grow before our eyes and prove everyone in the world wrong. Time for these kids to grow up before our eyes and go toe to toe with one of the best QB’s in the game today and in NFL history.
That is a bold bold task to ask of mostly unproven players, but it is a task that not only is being asked, it is being demanded from them.