Posted July 10, 2013

Off the Snap: Do the Chiefs have football’s best secondary?

AFC North, AFC West, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, NFC East, Off the Snap, Philadelphia Eagles
Former Dolphin CB Sean Smith (24) was one of Kansas City's biggest acquisitions of the offseason.

Former Dolphin CB Sean Smith (24) was one of Kansas City’s biggest acquisitions of the offseason.

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….

• The Kansas City Chiefs finished 12th in passing yards allowed last season, 26th in TDs given up through the air and next to last in interceptions forced. Cornerback Brandon Flowers believes this year will be better. A lot better.

On NFL AM Wednesday, Flowers said that the Chiefs, with new additions Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, could have an elite defensive backfield.

“We going out there trying to have the best secondary,” Flowers said. “Sean Smith is a big corner that can bump and run … we brought in Dunta Robinson, someone who can come in and cover, (and) also, Eric Berry is always roaming on the back end. If we put it all together, man, I think we have the pieces to be the best secondary in the NFL.”

The unit as a whole certainly looks a lot more intimidating, on paper. The trio of Flowers, Smith and Robinson leaves Kansas City plenty of options in terms of how to best utilize its cornerbacks, and the Eric Berry/Kendrick Lewis tandem has a chance to thrive if it can ever stay on the field for 16 games.

Kansas City has a nice schedule set up for itself, with five of the first nine games at home and just one outing in that stretch against a 2012 playoff team. There is palpable optimism surrounding the Chiefs, and a secondary capable of holding its own against any foe is up there on the reasons why.

• Slowly but surely, 2013 draft picks are putting pen to paper on their rookie contracts, in time to allow them to participate in training camps later this month. Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson, the No. 4 overall pick this year, wants to make sure he gets his deal done soon, too.

“I think it will be resolved, especially in the next week or two,” said Johnson. “I don’t want to hold out. I want to be there with the guys. I want to be with the team and I think something will happen in the next week or so.”

The reported issue so far: offset language, which provides a team financial protection should a rookie be cut before his four-year contract runs out. With draft-pick salaries strictly slotted now, this is one of the remaining sticking points in some negotiations. Contracts that include offset language make it easier for a team to send a player packing, so obviously it’s a clause that players and their agents would prefer to avoid.

• Another contract update, this time from Cincinnati. DE Michael Johnson is set to play the 2013 season under the franchise tag (which comes with a cushy $11.175 million payday for defensive ends), because, barring an unexpected twist, there will be no contract negotiations between Johnson and the Bengals before Monday’s deadline — once July 15 hits, teams are no longer permitted to negotiate long-term contracts with franchise-tagged players.

“I’m the right defensive end and I’ll play in every game and do my best for the team,” Johnson told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I can’t worry about that and prepare myself day in and day out. There is no ill will on either side, it’s a business. They have to make these moves much like players have to do the same thing. I have to go out and perform. The bottom line is to help the team win.”

Without getting Johnson inked to a multi-year contract now, the Bengals put themselves at risk of losing him in 2014. Johnson figures to be no higher than priority No. 2 for Cincinnati next offseason, either, with DT Geno Atkins on the verge of free agency.

• An interesting one for the stat geeks here. Danny Tuccitto of Football Outsiders has come up with a new metric for charting teams’ rosters: Snap-Weighted Ages.

In a nutshell, what Tuccitto’s stat does is determine how young each team’s actual lineup was in 2012 — as opposed to just averaging out the age for every player on the roster. Atlanta, Baltimore and San Diego graded out as three of the “oldest” teams in the league, with “Snap-Weighted Ages” in the top 10 for offense, defense and special teams.

• Sean Payton will be back on the New Orleans Saints’ sideline this season, his one-year suspension having expired. For now, though, he’s spending his time on the golf course. Specifically, Payton is serving as caddie for the PGA Tour’s Ryan Palmer.

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