By all accounts … most importantly his own … Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers had a truly awful season in 2015.
Statistically speaking (numbers from the advanced statistical website Pro Football Focus) Flowers was not only bad in coverage, he was bad in run support and bad in not breaking the rules. Flowers ranked in the bottom 10 of all NFL corners in performance and averaged better than half a penalty a game, making him one of the most frequently penalized defensive backs in the league.
When his season came to an end after suffering a knee injury against the Broncos is December, Flowers knew he had to make some changes heading in to 2016.
“I definitely had a different grind this off-season knowing where I had to get to,” said Flowers. “I just put myself there, knowing where I have to be physically and mentally, and then just shot for it and I’m there now.”
Flowers got there by making some diet changes and going to a new trainer. He says his knee, which had bothered him since the season-opening win against the Lions, is no longer a concern. It’s healed, partially because now it has to support less weight.
“I can’t tell you how I approached it, I just had to get whatever I was dealing with behind me and just move on. It’s a new year, new everything.”
Flowers admits he had off-field issues that he allowed to follow him to the field on Sundays. Now that he’s in better shape that revitalized body comes with a revitalized mind.
“Mentally  is wiped out. Like a Men in Black switch, I can just knock it out. As long as my body and my health are feeling good I’m ready to go.”
Flowers has stated his goal is to return to the Pro Bowl, a place he went in 2013. That was his final year in Kansas City. In 2014 he played well enough with the Chargers to earn a 4-year, $36.4 million contract. Last year was the first year of that deal and Flowers is well aware of the fact he did not live up to it.
Now he’s looking to return to being among the best DB’s in the NFL, and he thinks he has the pieces around him to get there. Jason Verrett has become a Pro Bowler himself and the Bolts brought in a few players that have helped Flowers redouble his efforts.
“We added another ball hawk, Casey Hayward, to the secondary. Dwight Lowery’s back there, this guy’s a veteran. We added some nice pieces. I just can’t wait to go and play another team already.”
The Chargers defense forced just 20 turnovers last year. Only eight teams were worse at taking the ball away from their opponents. Flowers did not intercept a pass for the first time in his career. Ditto Eric Weddle, who has moved on to Baltimore.
Before last season Flowers averaged about three interceptions a year. If he can return to that average while Verrett continues to improve on the three he had in 2015 … Hayward adds his career average of two per year … Lowery continues his career average of two per year … grab a couple more from Stevie Williams, who had a pair of picks in 2015 … maybe even have safety Jahleel Addae get the first pick of his career … and sprinkle in a few from linebackers like Manti Te’o … the Bolts could have as many interceptions in 2016 as they had total takeaways in 2015.
Sure, it’s a lot to ask for. But that improvement alone basically guarantees they finish with a record better than 4-12.