The Other Brandon … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

It went out on Twitter early on Sunday night. It was a cry for help.

The tweet was from Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers, working with the handle BFlowers24:

“Just one time in my life … just one time is all I’m asking for … is @BCarr39 to be on time when I’m riding wit him just somewhere just once.”

Two of the most competitive people on the Chiefs roster happen to share first names and play the same positions. From the time their names were matched up in the moments after the conclusion of the 2008 NFL Draft, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr have been connected.

In three seasons together with the Chiefs, under two different head coaches and three different defensive coordinators, the Brandons became not only top-notch NFL defensive backs, but friends for life. They’ve spent hours upon hours together watching tape, hanging out and if we are to believe Brandon Flowers, he’s spent hours upon hours waiting or Brandon Carr to show up.

“When I’m not working, when we are just going out and doing things, my time is usually about 30 minutes behind what I said,” a sheepish Carr admitted on Monday, after the Chiefs completed their practice session.

Said Flowers: “There aren’t too many people I’d wait for, but he’s one of them. He’s not always on time, but he always gets there eventually.”

Flowers was the big-name draft choice, going in the second round out of Virginia Tech. Carr was the little-known Division II corner coming out of Grand Valley State in the fifth round. Flowers arrived with a dash of flash, he liked to smile and he was outgoing and a playmaker. Carr was shy, quiet and with a lot of ground to make up for playing his college ball in quiet Midwest stadiums for the GVS Lakers.

Both have grown into their roles as two of the brightest young cornerbacks in the NFL. At the start of last season, it was Flowers that finally began getting national attention for his play. After two solid seasons, observers around the country were talking about his speed and feistiness on the corner.

By the end of the season, the best cornerback on the team was Carr, who made steady, game-by-game-by-game progress to the point where teams started going away from his side, and instead went against Flowers.

“He’s the model when you talk about the kind of players we want – be the same guy every day but just keep getting a little better,” said head coach Todd Haley. “And that’s what he did. Last year as the year moved on, you could tell players were getting more and more comfortable. He’s one of those guys. Again, he’s another guy I don’t think you want to put a ceiling on because he continues to improve and get better.”

A moment from last year – In a December conversation with an assistant coach for an upcoming Chiefs opponent, he was talking about the K.C. defense. “I’ll tell you that corner is something else,” the coach said. “What improvement we’ve seen from him since last year.” I remarked that Flowers was really playing well. “Flowers?” said the coach. “I’m not talking about him. I’m talking about the other guy. What is it Carr? No. 39. That kid is as good as we’ve seen this year.”

So what happened last year with Carr that the improvement was so obvious? Was it one of those moments where the lights finally clicked on for the guy? Was there something that pushed him over the top?

“That’s what happened (lights went on),” Carr said Monday, after the Chiefs practice session at their facility. “Everything started licking. My confidence soared for the most part. Like coach says, I just tried to stack good performances on top of good performances in games and practices. I just kept believing in myself, trying to outdo my last game.”

Now, they are both about to begin their fourth season in the NFL and they rank as two of the AFC’s best cover corners and two of the best holdovers that Haley got to claim when he took over the team before the 2009 season from former coach Herm Edwards.

“I think that we’ve become more and more comfortable and confident, and they’re doing a pretty good job of getting better and holding it down out there,” said Haley.

The head coach really likes the relationship that these two guys have built during their time with the Chiefs.

“They’re a pretty tight-knit duo, which I like,” Haley said. “You can tell that they look out for each other. They hang together. Out on the field, you see them talking a lot. Though maybe Brandon Flowers gets a little more of the fanfare, I think Brandon Carr has really done nothing but get better.”

Physically, the Brandons are quite different. Flowers stands 5-9 on his tiptoes and weighs 187 pounds; Carr is 6-0 and 205 pounds. As a bigger cornerback, Carr is more comfortable pressing the issue at the line of scrimmage. That’s something Flowers can do well, but he seems to play better off the receiver and then making up ground with his outstanding closing speed.

“When we met, we just kind of clicked, like brothers,” said Carr. “We are different people. He’s a hard worker and a tremendous competitor out there. He’s not the biggest guy, but his heart and determination, every time I turn on film to watch myself, I ended up watching him. He’s cat-like quick with tremendous ball skills. He has a big heart. That’s what you need to compete out there on the island.

“He’s a little bit more laid back than I am. I’m kind of a nonchalant person for the most part. He could probably sit at home all day and be fine. But I like to get out and explore and do things. That’s one big difference.”

With Flowers coming into the league as a high second-round choice, and Carr entering three rounds later, there was always a difference in paychecks between the Brandons. Flowers always had the edge, until this season. As a rookie back in 2008, Flowers signed a four-year $3,215,000 contract, including a $1,510,000 signing bonus. Carr’s deal was just three years for a total of $1,360,000, with a $210,000 signing bonus.

But Carr’s contract made him a restricted free agent this year, and when the Chiefs tendered him an offer to retain his rights, he’s making $2,610,000 this season compared to Flowers $555,000 in base salary.

Both Carr and Flowers can become unrestricted free agents at the end of this season, and whether they sign with the Chiefs or another team, they will see a big increase in their income – quality cornerbacks are in high demand and they seldom become available on the free agency market. If they continue their upward arch in performance, it’s going to be hard for the Chiefs to let either one get away.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Carr said. “Right now, we are just having fun with our teammates, coming to practice every day. We have our jobs back and that’s enough to get us excited and allow us to compete. We are going to try to provide a good performance this year and top what we did last year. That’s all we are worried about right now.”

That and showing up when he’s supposed too.

“Just once, I want to see it just once,” Brandon Flowers said. “If it ever does, I’ll call the media.”

6 Responses to “The Other Brandon … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 30, 2011  - Steve says:

    Bob – great story especially given that Brandon Carr was put down by other media types in last year’s preseason. It’s great to see Haley’s comments – sure hope Scott Pioli keeps him and Brandon Flowers for next season and beyond.

  • August 30, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    I agree. Great writeup Bob. Really enjoyed this one.

    If we can afford to, these two guys work great together as a team. I for one would love to see them hang around for years to come.

  • August 30, 2011  - Rick says:

    We’re $32 mil under the cap, allegedly, so signing both shouldn’t be an issue.

  • August 30, 2011  - Chris says:

    I would love to keep both. But the more important one is probably Carr at this point. He doesn’t get the attention but he is always playing. Flowers has been hurt and I would love to see him playing the other side for the next 5 or 6 seasons but if we can only keep one Carr is my choice.

  • August 30, 2011  - ED says:

    I’m with Rick 30 million plus on cap will go toward signing the Brandon Boyz, Bowe, and Gilberry.

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