The 2011 season gave us Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, and Kam Chancellor as new starters in the Seahawks' secondary. I debated for years with folks that said Seattle needed bigger corners. I was of the opposing view, saying that tall lanky people are awkward and lack deep cover speed. Andre Ware was the guy we all remember who was gonna change the position, and I used his example far too often to write off the idea.
I mean, the alternative was supporting corners that needed step ladders to break up anything above six feet tall, but my acceptance of the NFL Narrative got tested. Not by Browner, actually. It was Sherman in the preseason of 2011 who made me go "Holy s*** this could work." I noted this as I broke down one such game -- "Well, he certainly can run, if he develops some other skills, he's gonna be a star."
The interesting thing about all of that though is that I didn't pay much attention to Brandon Browner. He's on the weak side of the offense and even the best throwers won't throw that way by nature too often. I mean, I knew he had penalty issues and things, but I didn't look at him as all that important most of the time.
I usually have a moment where I will key on something and it'll make me take a closer look at a player and his game. Many times it's a big play in the positive. In Browner's case it was a bad play versus the Redskins, where he gave up a 3rd and 15 deep bomb to surrender a late lead.
Now, I'd broken down some bad red-zone plays before, but this one caused me to go back and look at all of his season to that point. I'd be shocked if you didn't read this far and say to yourself, "Well crap, this is a downer." But, this is where I started to understand Brandon Browner and his skills.
Browner has weaknesses, we all know that, but when I watched him from 0-15 yards he was a force. If you push him to 20 yards or deeper, he was in trouble. However, because of Earl Thomas, I never looked at the deep stuff as stuff that was unmanageable. As long as Browner was that force on the left side from 0-15, I felt from my view of his play that it balanced out. He was certainly a force on special teams and everyone has already GIF'd his triple KO vs the Cards and his attempted murder of Wes Welker.
Weak sides are weird though. Teams run their gimmicks left a lot of the time. Short screen, tosses, most teams build the left side as their power side anyway, so the gimmicks are no surprise. Browner offers you a guy who (If he still has his skills), that makes all that stuff harder to accomplish. Blocking Browner? You better pray he doesn't rip your arm off shedding you, so he can beat the runner to death with the bloody end of it. How would you explain that to that guy's family when you come out of meetings on Tell the Truth Monday?
Brandon Browner is a penalty machine, but even New England survived *ducks tomato* that to notch its last *ducks a razor blade frisbee*... fine I won't finish the thought. You guys are crazy.
Anyway, the thing you have to decide if you're Pete Carroll and John Schneider and Kris Richard is: can Browner still make up for his short comings? He's not going to be faster. So if I'm the decision guy, here's how I evaluate Browner going forward: Nothing deep matters except in 3rd and very long. I'll live with this. However, he better be 90% right inside the 0-15 yard range. No weaknesses, I need to see impact too, pass breakups, INTs, breaking down blocks for WR, RB screens and run stops like the one where he forced a fumble against Carolina a few years back.
Brandon Browner didn't just help establish the name Legion of Boom, he was the reason it was coined after the Seahawks made several teams tap out in the passing game in 2012. No, it's never been all rose petals and magic for Brandon Browner, but if he makes the team, I'll be happy because the #39 train that brought back the old days of defensive cans of whoop-ass will be one of the best additions this team has made since introducing him to the NFL in 2011. Good luck Brandon.
Mr. Browner, if you see this, I'd like to sincerely apologize for once saying you had stove pipes for legs on twitter. I know you laughed, but I sorta felt a bit bad about it afterward. Again, good luck and fans, I open the flood gates to your Browner GIFs. Tweet'em if you got'em. This season is already shaping up to be a weird one and we haven't even seen the draft yet.