In his second season, despite being hampered by a new defensive philosophy, Flowers continued his assent to the top of the NFL cornerbacks list and ended the season with 5 interceptions and 28 pass deflections.
Flowers seems to be continuing his improving ways. After just over a week of training camp, his name has not come up often, which should be seen as a very positive sign. Flowers has turned himself into a legit shutdown corner and all the Chiefs' quarterbacks have taken notice. Neither Cassel, Croyle, or even Tyler Palko have attempted a pass in Flowers direction in over a week. Let's just hope the rest of the NFL didn't get the memo.
One corner that has been getting picked on, however, is Brandon Carr. Though coming to the Chiefs from a small Division II school at Grand Valley State, Carr wasted no time adjusting to the talent jump of the NFL, starting every game his rookie season. But many have begun to doubt the once very promising young corner early in this 2010 campaign. And although some criticism is warranted, I think it is too early to push the panic button.
Not many high fives for Carr in St. Joe.
Much of the flack being thrown Carr's way is based off his surrendering multiple long touchdown passes to a plethora of receivers, most of which came from veteran wideout Chris Chambers. Multiple times during Todd Haley's press conferences during camp, Haley has talked at length about his conversations to his coaches and coordinators about "thinking outside the box". Romeo Crennel apparently got the message and is doing his best to see the forest from the trees.
"They're gonna be facing some veteran receivers that know quit a bit and they're getting some good work from a guy like Chambers who's been around and knows the tricks of the trade". Crennel said of his young group of defensive backs. "They're getting some valuable work".
However, crafty veteran moves aren't the only contributing factor to Carr's perceived poor play. What is rarely reported by both media and onlooking fans is the fact that Carr is often put on an island that is nearly impossible to cover. The quarterbacks are off limits to oncoming D-lineman and linebackers, which often leads to players like Tamba Hali and Wallace Gilberry giving Cassel a "atta boy" slap on his back side while leaving Carr to tightly cover for up to 7-10 seconds.
Excuses are like... well, you know. But in Carr's case, much of the criticism is undeserved and I, for one, am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Carr has proven that he can play at an elite level in the NFL in both the Cover 2 and the 3-4. Is Carr having a rough camp so far?
All players go through slumps, and I believe that is all this is. If Carr is still struggling after two preseason games, it may be time to start thinking about other options.
Arenas has made great strides in the past week at camp.
Justin Olson/Warpaint Illustrated
One of those options could be Javier Arenas. Widely considered to be a return specialist and pass rusher, Arenas has been very impressive in camp and is probably the third corner on the depth chart as well as the starting nickel corner. Arenas is very small, though, and I don't believe the coaching staff wants to put him up against a team' second-best receiver at this point.
The Chiefs do have some young options in case of injury or poor play. Travis Daniels, Maurice Leggett, Mike Richardson, and Donald Washington have all shown flashes, but the debate of who deserve a roster spot has yet to be determined.
One thing is very clear: if Carr and Flowers can continue to grow and prosper into the Pro Bowl caliber players they are capable of being, and rookies Berry and Lewis continue to show promise, the Chiefs will have gone against the grain and built a team from the outside in, as opposed to starting from the big men inside.
Ultimately, though, every defensive position will benefit from the solidifying of the secondary.