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Bailey vs. Flowers: Fans Square Off



It's time to settle it once and for all... who is better, Champ Bailey or Brandon Flowers?
It's the eternal sports fan debate. "My team's guy is better than your team's guy." Every single person in the world has had this argument at one point or another (with exceptions being made for infants, naturally). These arguments are especially bitter between division rivals, and as of late Chiefs fans and Broncos fans have elevated their feud to nearly "Game of Thrones"-like status in their arguments over players at similar positions. No one has been decapitated as of this writing, but I assume that's just a matter of time.

It's time for PFS to get in on the action. Time for me to fight for all that is just and right in the world (that is, the Kansas City Chiefs). In the other corner sits Lucas Polglaze, a heck of a modern American and one of the few Broncos fans who can stand me. He's going to be fighting for his guys, and from what I hear the dude packs a wallop. We could start off with some minor position like guard, but dipping a toe in is for sissies. Instead, we're going right into it. So let's get into it...

Who is better, Champ Bailey or Brandon Flowers?


Seth

Luc, I think that any objective football fan with more than a passing knowledge of the game takes Brandon Flowers over Champ Bailey. Tell me why I'm wrong!


Lucas

Although both are elite cover corners, I think that Champ Bailey is still a shutdown veteran CB.

Over the past five years, he's been graded out by Pro Football Focus (https://www.profootb...10-cornerbacks/) to be the 4th best CB in the league. Now, Brandon Flowers does come in at third on that list, so he hasn't got an edge there.

However, the NFL is a "What have you done for me recently?" league. And in that, Champ Bailey shines. In a staggering 586 snaps, he allowed a first down or TD on only 4.27% of his snaps. And, until the Baltimore playoff game, he only allowed one TD in coverage during the regular season, to A.J. Green.

So how does Brandon Flowers top a guy 6th best in the league in terms of percentage of 1st downs/TDs allowed, especially considering Champ had about 80 snaps more than the next highest snap count in the top 6?


Seth

That's a great question, Luc. I'll tell you how... by being better statistically in the ways that matter. 1st downs and TDs allowed speaks a lot more for what situation a quarterback is thrown in. If you tend to face a lot of 3rd and longs and don't have to cover in the end zone much (in other words, have an elite overall defense), your TD and 1st down percentage are going to naturally be low. That's reflective of the defense you're on, not yourself. Of COURSE Bailey's not gonna allow many TDs, Von Miller and company wouldn't let anyone close!

Flowers, on the other hand, shows the edge in the stats that gauge only their individual performance. Flowers allowed exactly half of the passes thrown his way to be completed. Champ allowed 54.1%. Edge: Flowers. Flowers knocked down 7 passes this year, while Champ knocked down 3. Edge: Flowers. Flowers had 3 picks to Champ's 2, and held QBs to a (albeit slightly) lower QB Rating when thrown at. Advantages all: Flowers.

And can we really just ignore what we saw that last time Champ Bailey took the field? I saw a CB who is just a little bit past it. That wasn't a bad day, it was exposure on national television. Flacco and co. showed the world that Champ doesn't have the wheels to stick with fast receivers any more. That flaw is going to get hammered on this year.

With Flowers having virtually every edge statistically AND young legs on his side, you gotta go with Flowers... right?


Lucas

First of all, I don't see how your numbers are hugely different from mine; they still rely on the strength or weakness of a defense.

Well, one of the things that is so important about Champ is that he is a wily veteran corner. He will outsmart the receiver most of the time, unless you give him an unfavorable matchup without safety help like what happened with Torrey Smith in the playoffs in brutally cold weather. Try running fast in that kind of cold. I could barely go outside that night, let alone play a game of football!
Still, I've heard that Champ still runs a 40 in the 4.4s.

One thing that Champ has as a major strength is run defense. Again, back up to that PFF article, he grades out as the 4th best corner over the past 5 years against the run. He is a solid tackler, with great technique. All too often on a run, the runner will get outside, only to be met by a ferociously oncoming #24.

And, let's not forget, this is a player that stat-master Cian Fahey calculated had an 81.2% success rate throughout the season. He graded out as player #98 on PFF's Top 101 of 2012, a list that Flowers doesn't even appear on.


Seth

Ptsshhh, I'm from Minnesota. Don't give me the "it was too cold" defense. Unless it's below 5 degrees there is no excuse for wearing a jacket. Of course, if it gets above 75 degrees I'm sweating, so it goes both ways. But I digress...

The difference between our stats is that yours rely on situation (down and distance and field position), which is largely affected by the overall defense. Catch percentage, on the other hand, is as simple as it gets; when the quarterback threw to YOUR guy, how often did you let him catch it? No one else helping, no edge from your defense being better. It's all about you and the WR you're up against. It's worth noting that this is that stat where Flowers has the biggest edge on Champ.

Now, Champ is of course a very, very solid CB against the run. However, Flowers has long been considered one of the best in the business in this area as well. So that by itself isn't going to give Champ the edge here. I WILL say that yes, Bailey makes the PFF "graded" list and Flowers doesn't. Of course, given that their subjective PFF grades were very, very likely determined by two different guys, it's tough to say whether that's a reflection of the player or the grader. That kind of issue is exactly why I treat PFF's grades with a grain of salt... there's no consistency.

As far as the "top 101 of 2012" list... c'mon man. Any list of the top 101 players in 2012 that DOESN'T include Jamaal Charles is automatically null, void, and crazy. Most of the time one lone omission isn't enough... but when you leave off JC, it is.

Think of it this way... if you started without "prior info," then moved Flowers to Denver and Bailey to KC and had them have the EXACT same year they both did, who would be widely acknowledged as the better CB? It'd be Flowers. Champ is still very, very, very good. But he's not great. Not anymore. People still view him that way because 2 years ago he and Revis Island were IT in the NFL. But time is cruel and completely unstoppable. I remember when Ty Law came over to the Chiefs. He had a very productive first year, though he wasn't QUITE the force he used to be. He'd declined just a little a couple years in a row, actually. Then, the next year, he just fell off the planet. Because at the speed NFL WR's are, once you lose it you LOSE it. He was 32 years old.

Champ Bailey is 35. He's very due for the "Ty Law" year.


Lucas

The stats do make a difference. I can't speak to Flowers, but Champ was almost always in single coverage, no safety help. How often did Flowers get that same advantage in KC? Did he have that help? Or was he on an island?

Now, I don't disagree with you about Jamaal Charles. That is ridiculous. He deserves to be on that list...what are you doing sidetracking me?!? 'hem.

I think your point about them switching teams is null. The reason people don't know about Flowers is he's in Kansas City, not exactly a hugely successful team as of late. Because of that, his contributions get overlooked. If he was in Denver, he'd be a lot more visible.

There have been a lot of calls recently for Champ to move to safety. I think those are unreasoned thoughts. The man is still an elite cornerback in this league: as I've said, in last year's regular season, he allowed only 1 touchdown in coverage! That's a pretty big...or should I say small...statistic. Champ still has the speed to play corner. Plus, he has said that he doesn't feel like he needs to move positions just yet. I trust him; he wants this team to win and will do what's best for that...he has been with us for nine seasons, after all!

Because Champ has suffered from this perception of having lost a step last year, I believe opposing QBs and offensive coordinators will target him more, especially considering the strength of the rest of the secondary. He will make them pay for that. He could have career numbers this coming year.
Plus he's called Champ. Advantage: Bailey.

Now, having said everything, I think Brandon Flowers is an elite cornerback and I respect him fully. I just tend to back my guy, especially when I think Champ is the better player.
One thing's for sure; it will be interesting to see these two players perform this coming year in secondaries that both had key, significant additions to their respective groups.

Denver held over uber-skilled youngster Chris Harris and added the enormously talented Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
KC added great press corner Sean Smith and cover man Dunta Robinson.

A closing question for you: do you believe Champ Bailey is an elite cornerback in this league?


Seth

I appreciate you refraining from what would've been a VERY easy cheap shot at the Chiefs in that 3rd paragraph. "Not exactly successful" was absolutely as kind as you could have said that. To answer your question, Flowers is often left on his own in coverage, though deep safety help is provided (of course, last year that deep safety help was virtually nonexistent, but that's a whole separate issue).

And touche about Champ's name. Even I can't deny that's a heckuva name. I have to say, you've almost got me convinced. Going into this conversation I wouldn't have even come close to saying Champ is still an elite safety. An hour debating with you and I'm willing to admit I MIGHT have been wrong (are you sure you picked the right career?). Perhaps I was a bit hasty in declaring Champ's demise after the Ravens game. So I'll tell you what, I'll meet you in the middle... Champ is still and elite corner, but he's still not on the level of B-Flow. The youth and slight statistical edge make my guy the undeniable winner (in my own head, where I've been keeping score, I'm winning Q to 12).

Thanks for being a worthy opponent!

For the readers... Who do you think has the edge there? Does Bailey still hold the crown as tops in the AFC West, or has Flowers become the class of the division? I have a really funny feeling that your opinion of this debate will be very affected depending on whether you orange or red.

And don't think Lucas and I are done, either. Next time we're taking off the kiddie gloves. It's Von Miller vs. Justin Houston. Don't count out me pushing for my guy Houston. Haven't you ever seen Rocky? The underdog always wins.
  • Tarkus, William Watts and Lucas Polglaze like this



16 Comments

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Chad Jensen
Aug 05 2013 10:32 PM

LOL. Fun piece. I laugh when people try to use the Divisional Playoff loss vs Baltimore as some kind of "case in point'' as to how Champ Bailey isn't elite anymore. Look at his 2012 regular season stats. Dude dominated at a very advanced age (For a CB). He's still shutdown. Flowers.......meh. Don't get me wrong. He's good. But I've seen him get smoked too many times. If I was drafting a team and could choose between those 2 players to start at LCB, I'd choose Bailey. Flowers is younger and he has the advantage there. But Champ is Champ. Ya ever heard the old line, "2/3 of the Earth is covered by water, the other 1/3 is covered by Champ Bailey"? Well, he might not be the same player he was in 2004, but he's still a Top 5 CB in the NFL. 

 

I can't wait for 2013 regular season to start and watch Champ continue to shutdown #1 receivers on an island. I've been hearing that Champ has "lost it" or is "too old" for about 5 years now. 

 

Very fun piece though, gentlemen. 

    • Lucas Polglaze likes this

A solid effort in a losing cause, Lucas.  ;)

 

The (individual) stats and youth are on Flowers' side.

    • William Watts likes this
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Chad Jensen
Aug 06 2013 12:01 AM

Also, I think the Broncos Brass would agree with me. If they truly thought that Champ had lost it, they wouldn't continue to pay him $10M/year. He's the highest paid Defensive player on the Roster, now that Dumervil is gone. Von's next contract will dwarf that, but Champ is fine. And he'll showcase again this year why he is the Broncos highest paid Defensive player. 

    • Lucas Polglaze likes this
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Seth Keysor
Aug 06 2013 12:03 AM

Thanks Chad, this was really fun to do.  We're definitely doing it again!

And Tarkus, I can't help but agree :)

    • Tarkus and William Watts like this
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Seth Keysor
Aug 06 2013 12:04 AM

LOL. Fun piece. I laugh when people try to use the Divisional Playoff loss vs Baltimore as some kind of "case in point'' as to how Champ Bailey isn't elite anymore. Look at his 2012 regular season stats. Dude dominated at a very advanced age (For a CB). He's still shutdown. Flowers.......meh. Don't get me wrong. He's good. But I've seen him get smoked too many times. If I was drafting a team and could choose between those 2 players to start at LCB, I'd choose Bailey. Flowers is younger and he has the advantage there. But Champ is Champ. Ya ever heard the old line, "2/3 of the Earth is covered by water, the other 1/3 is covered by Champ Bailey"? Well, he might not be the same player he was in 2004, but he's still a Top 5 CB in the NFL. 

 

I can't wait for 2013 regular season to start and watch Champ continue to shutdown #1 receivers on an island. I've been hearing that Champ has "lost it" or is "too old" for about 5 years now. 

 

Very fun piece though, gentlemen. 

 

One of these days those people are going to be right about Champ.  Can't cheat father time forever...  That said, Luc talked me into not completely writing him off.

    • William Watts likes this
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William Watts
Aug 06 2013 12:29 AM
Champ Bailey is 35. He's very due for the "Ty Law" year.

 

 

He is a young pup compared to Peyton Manning.

 

Brandon Flowers is one of the most underrated players in the NFL.

 

While Champ Bailey is one of the most overrated players in the NFL based off name recognition (not saying he hasn't been elite, but Denver fans think that Deion Sanders is holding his jock strap and that's ridiculous.)

 

They are both highly skilled CB's, no doubt... but head-to-head at this point in their careers... You take B-Flow, 10 times out of 10.

 

Now if we are talking about both of these guys in their prime, you probably give the edge to Champ Bailey as he was a HOF level player throughout parts of this career. You can't say that about Brandon Flowers at this point --- without sounding incredibly delusional. Like me.

 

Overall: Great story...

 

For this debate, I have to give the edge to Seth. Sorry BFFL, but I also I agree with Tarkus, it was a losing cause.

    • Tarkus likes this
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Lucas Polglaze
Aug 06 2013 12:47 AM

A solid effort in a losing cause, Lucas.  ;)

Ah well. It was just a losing cause this time, next time the tables will be turned, and Seth is going to have to bring his A game.

    • Tarkus likes this
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Lucas Polglaze
Aug 06 2013 12:48 AM

For this debate, I have to give the edge to Seth. Sorry BFFL, but I also I agree with Tarkus, it was a losing cause.

 

Yep, sure, when you're talking about an aging CB whose most recent memory was getting the burn of his life. And I'm talking to Chiefs fans.

 

Oh well, we'll see how it ends next time.

    • William Watts likes this

Gotta love homers going back and forth with each other.

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Lucas Polglaze
Aug 06 2013 01:20 AM

Oh, and we're just starting. More is coming, and it will be epic.

mexican-soccer-coach-2.gif

    • Seth Keysor, Tarkus and William Watts like this
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Chad Jensen
Aug 06 2013 02:21 AM

One of these days those people are going to be right about Champ.  Can't cheat father time forever...  That said, Luc talked me into not completely writing him off.

You're right. But based on his high level of play in 2012, I don't think it happens in 2013. 

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Chad Jensen
Aug 06 2013 02:24 AM

He is a young pup compared to Peyton Manning.

 

Brandon Flowers is one of the most underrated players in the NFL.

 

While Champ Bailey is one of the most overrated players in the NFL based off name recognition (not saying he hasn't been elite, but Denver fans think that Deion Sanders is holding his jock strap and that's ridiculous.)

 

They are both highly skilled CB's, no doubt... but head-to-head at this point in their careers... You take B-Flow, 10 times out of 10.

 

Now if we are talking about both of these guys in their prime, you probably give the edge to Champ Bailey as he was a HOF level player throughout parts of this career. You can't say that about Brandon Flowers at this point --- without sounding incredibly delusional. Like me.

 

Overall: Great story...

 

For this debate, I have to give the edge to Seth. Sorry BFFL, but I also I agree with Tarkus, it was a losing cause.

Even if I take off my Orange colored glasses, I think 100 out of 100 NFLers would take Champ Bailey in his prime over Brandon Flowers in his prime. Not even close. Champ is a 1st Ballot HOFer. Flowers......isn't. But I would agree that Flowers is somewhat underrated.  :)

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Lucas Polglaze
Aug 06 2013 02:26 AM

Even if I take off my Orange colored glasses, I think 100 out of 100 NFLers would take Champ Bailey in his prime over Brandon Flowers in his prime. Not even close. But I would agree that Flowers is somewhat underrated. 

Maybe 99, have to account for the Broncos hater/Chiefs lover in the room. Flowers IS underrated. But in their prime there's just no comparison.

    • Chad Jensen likes this

Very nice debate!

 

I will say both sides of the stats are hard to really say one player is better than the other.  Such as completion percentage...How many times did the Broncos in the 4th quarter go to a more prevent defense allowing players to catch everything in front of them and playing more of a bend but don't break defense where the Chiefs were playing tight coverage all game long.  With the NFL being such a team sport it is hard to say one player is better than another since a player's stats are helped or hurt by their teammates. 

 

My guess even though I am a Broncos fan is Flowers does have the better year but the Broncos don't need Champ to be at that elite level as much as they have in the past with how much more talent there is around him now compared to say 5 years ago.  I'm also guessing this year Champ's what I would call "Sexy stats" like interceptions and knock downs will go up considering they will have DRC on the other side and teams will try throwing at Champ a little more hoping Father Time has caught up with him.  This should lead to a few more opportunities for interceptions for him. 

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Lucas Polglaze
Aug 06 2013 06:02 PM
Who is the producer of this excellent comment? Identify yourself!
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Seth Keysor
Aug 06 2013 07:06 PM

Man, well said Carl.  I appreciate that comment, and an excellent point on completion percentage. 

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