Foxboro - There has been talk recently that Trey Flowers has become a dominant player this season. In fact everywhere you look Flowers is being praised as dominant. Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor and Deacon Jones - move over here comes Flowers. Flowers, 25, is about to hit the free agent market and the question is how much is he worth on the open market. Based on exhaustive film review, Pats Maven has become the grinch at the party believing that Flowers is a good player but not a player who deserves $14 million per year.
Based on my film review, Flowers is a good three-technique player (which means he can rush against the guard) who can rush the passer from the inside, but he is not as strong of a pass rusher as Chandler Jones (who the Pats traded to Arizona prior to the 2016 season) or even Rob Ninkovich who retired after the 2016 season.
His play against the run has improved, but he is not nearly the force that Richard Seymour or Ty Warren was a decade ago. Given his size, he is capable of being moved in the run game. Against Miami in December, Flowers was inside on several of Frank Gore’s long runs and he was easily moved off the ball by the Miami offensive lineman.
The label often given to Flowers is that he is a complete player. But that label can be dangerous given that Flowers might not do anything well enough to warrant a major contract. The same was said about Adalius Thomas and it turned out he didn’t do anything well enough to warrant a major contract.
His supporters consistently dismiss the fact that he had only 7.5 sacks this year, which is tied for 34th in the league and that he was not selected to the Pro Bowl. Pro Football Focus has convinced some that games are not worth watching and often chart (sometimes inaccurately) stats without an understanding of why a play occurred a certain way. There is a love of the QB pressure stat even though the stat can be subjective and fails to take into account the result of the play. Make the QB move (which occurred with Flowers) and the pass is still completed, Pro Football Focus will celebrate like it’s Christmas. It is also concerning that Flowers is unable to turn many of his pressures into sacks - demonstrating that quarterbacks can get away from him.
According to one league source, Flowers will receive a large contract because teams are placing increased value on interior pass rush, but the league source cautioned that Flowers is not a true outside pass rusher and would struggle as a zero technique against the center. Get him on a guard and Flowers is too quick. However, if a tackle blocks him he will struggle because of his athleticism.
Flowers was a non-factor against the Titans and Steelers this year. The Titans game was particularly worth noting because he rushed against backup right tackle Dennis Kelly. Flowers disappeared in that game. Against Pittsburgh, which has one of the better offensive lines in football, Flowers went into the witness protection program too. He was given credit for two QB hits, but realistically he had one.
Flowers had 1.5 sacks against Houston in the season-opener. Houston objectively at the time had one of the worst offensive lines in football and in that game lost their tackle Seantrel Henderson for the season. Deshaun Watson was also coming off ACL surgery. Flowers also had two sacks against the lowly Jets. He has played his best against weaker competition and don’t recall his name being mentioned last year in the Super Bowl against the Eagles where Nick Foles had ample time to throw the ball and the defense other than Stephon Gilmore was a disaster.
The Pats often need to scheme up defenses to get him sacks. He received credit for two sacks in Miami when he only deserved credit for one. He had nothing to do with the first sack he was given credit for in Miami. In the other sack and the one against Minnesota came on a stunt where he was unblocked coming up the middle from the edge. Clearly, the offense missed a blocking assignment. The irony is that those who consider Flowers dominant insist that the sack numbers don’t do him justice, yet some of his sacks resulted more from scheme/offensive breakdowns rather than his prowess as a player.
It is clear the Pats recognized that Flowers has trouble pass rushing on his own and creativity is required. My film review indicates that Flowers is a bull rusher who lacks the moves necessary and creativity to beat really good tackles and is sometimes sub-par against the run.
For these reasons, Flowers might be worth $10 million per year but definitely not $14 million.