Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers has emerged as one of the team's defensive leaders and playmakers in the past four years. I caught up with Flowers recently, and here is what he had to say about the Chiefs' upcoming season and his NFL career:
How's your offseason been?
The offseason has been going good. I'm back up here in Kansas City, and you know it's always good to come in here in the locker room and see your teammates, the brothers you haven't seen in a couple months. You know, to get back to working out with those guys and build up chemistry for next season, because every year you have new pieces to plug in. So, I'm good. I feel like I've been away from the game for too long, and I can't wait to get back.
How have you evolved as a player since joining the Chiefs? What roles have you taken on with the defense?
I just feel like my knowledge of the game has become more clearer. I've had three different defensive back coaches in the NFL. A lot of people would see that as a bad thing because they each teach different techniques, but I look at it as a plus. I gained a lot from it. You know getting knowledge from every defensive back coach that I had, how he sees certain formations, and how he'd play different routes. I just added it all into my game, and I feel that now I'm a more complete cornerback than I have ever been.
My rookie year, well I was a starter from day one, so I had a big challenge on my hands. I just bettered myself and tried to be a playmaker on the squad. Whenever our team needs a big play, they can look at me to make that play. Or when it's a tight game, they can look at my side of the field and feel like, "we don't need to worry about that area over there." It's about being accountable. The guys can count on me any time.
Let's rewind the clock a bit. How did you transform from a three-star recruit to one of the best players on the Chiefs defense? Tell me a little bit about your story.
Florida is a big state with some highly-touted guys getting recruited. I think a lot of guys get overlooked because [touted prospects] go to the Miami camps, the Florida camps, or the Nike camps and they get rated high. A lot of guys from my area didn't have the funds or they didn't have a lot of things - we didn't have the knowledge to go to those camps and get ready. So they just had to go on performance alone.
That's why I feel like I went under the radar. I felt I was an excellent corner in high school. I played on a great high school team. I probably lost two or three games in high school, but I just fell under the radar. But that made me work harder every year, and throughout [high] school and college, I just felt like I was the underdog. So I think that three-star did nothing but help me in the long run rather than hurt me.
The Chiefs were awful in your first season. How has the organization responded to those rough seasons?
I felt like they were patient with us, and that really helped us mature as a young team. That's all it is right there. I was a starter. Brandon Carr, who just went to Dallas, was a starter. Jamaal Charles was getting a lot of carries as a rookie. Glenn Dorsey on the d-line was a rookie. Branden Albert has been starting at left tackle since year one. So we've just had a lot of youth, and of course we're going to make a lot of mistakes out there.
But you know, we did it on the fly, and we learned from those mistakes fast. With the coaching staff, the general manager, and everyone being patient with us, it felt like it turned out for the best early in our career on the field. We still have a lot of young guys, but we have a lot of young, mature guys that are taking our team to the next level.
Injuries played a huge role in the Chiefs' slide from division champs to 7-9 in 2011. Do you think that former head coach Todd Haley deserved to be fired? How much responsibility did he have for the team's struggles?
It was just a tough break for Todd. The bottom line in this league is if you're not winning, then somebody's gone. It's just unfortunate that we had a lot of key injuries that set us back. We had players that stepped in and stepped up for us, but the chemistry just wasn't there. We got a lot of losses in the "L" column because the chemistry wasn't built right, and we had to just change our whole offensive and defensive strategy and try to prepare the team and go out there and play with the personnel that we have. So it was just a bad break for Todd. A lot of people got hurt, and in this league if you're not winning, someone got to go.
A lot was made about how well the Chiefs played under Romeo Crennel. Why did the team perform so well with him as the head coach?
Romeo came in not trying to change too much. He came in with a positive spirit. He just set the tone for the guys. He wasn't above transition. He was well respected around the NFL. You know this guy got five Super Bowl rings, so whatever he says, a lot of people are on high alert. That's why the chemistry got better at the end of the season. I think he managed the team very well with the personnel that he had. That's what he was doing in practice, and that's trying to get us wins on Sundays, and it just dialed up for us.
Look for part two of this interview on Friday, June 8. You can follow Brandon Flowers on Twitter @BFlowers24.
Derek Ciapala has been an NFL fan since childhood. Whether it be a holiday, a sleepy Sunday, or traumatic Monday, there is always football on in his household. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.
Source: Personal Interview