From Raymond James Stadium
All his football playing life, Brandon Flowers has been a cornerback. It goes back to his very first days of pee wee ball in southeast Florida.
Playing on the corner is the only place he knows, the only place he wants to be, even though being stuck on that island can be tough at times in today’s world of the pass happy NFL.
“There’s good and there’s bad and you have to take it all,” Flowers said. “You just can’t do things that help them. You can’t do what I did.”
One of those ugly moments came Saturday night in pre-season game No. 2 against Tampa Bay. It’s the second quarter, the Chiefs are up 7-3 and the Buccaneers are just about to move the ball into Kansas City territory. It’s a second-and-six play when QB Josh Johnson drops back to pass and immediately looks to his right. That’s where he sees WR Micheal Spurlock with man-to-man coverage from Flowers.
“I kind of figured they were going to come my way,” Spurlock said. “He tried to knock it down and then make the tackle. I broke it and then got in the end zone.”
It was a huge play in this game, and a mistake that the Chiefs could not afford.
“We are both in the NFL, we are both trying to make a play, he made it and I didn’t,” Flowers said after the game. ”
All through the week of practices between the Atlanta game and the trip to Tampa, Todd Haley and his defensive staff were harping on the players about creating turnovers. They were shut out against the Falcons. There was no question that was part of Flowers thinking as he went after the ball when Spurlock made the catch, rather that secure the tackle.
“We are a defense that’s always trying to force turnovers,” said Flowers. “That’s why they put us on the field, to get those things done. When the opportunity comes you’ve got to make the play.”
Haley did not lower the boom on Flowers, but made it plain the Chiefs couldn’t afford busted tackles like that one going for big play touchdowns.
“We have to tackle; we can’t allow 50-yard pass plays,” said Haley. “Big plays hurt us last year. We did a good job last week with them, but we allowed at least that one big one in this game.
“It’s a fine-line; you don’t ever want to take that stinger away from those guys. It’s similar with some of the pass interference or illegal contacts. We are trying to get these guys to be aggressive and think aggressive. You’ve got to make that split-second decision.
“I know he’s feeling bad about not making a tackle. He was trying to make a play there.”
After the missed tackle and Tampa Bay touchdown, Flowers came out of the game. The play and its results had nothing to do with that decision. It was something pre-determined before the game started as Haley tries to manage his players coming back from injuries. Flowers had off-season surgery on his shoulder, an injury that he played with throughout the ’09 season.
“Part of my job is whether we are doing too much, or are we doing enough,” Haley said. “We had a clear cut plan for Brandon. We were going to get him out of the regular defense and get him into nickel and passing situations so he could get the work necessary.”