BJ Kissel, a gentleman turning out some fine content at SBN-KC, zooms out to examine exactly how much of an impact Eric Berry had on this young Chiefs defense in his rookie season in which he played almost every down:
In a secondary full of young, talented players, Berry stood out above the rest. He’s already been named by his peers as one of the top 100 players in the NFL heading into the 2011 season. He was named the Chiefs rookie of the year by his teammates, and according to Pro Football Focus Berry was the best blitzing defensive back in the league last year.
Meanwhile, my sentiments regarding Berry’s wonderful rookie season are expertly summarized by Red Tribe Cinema. If you haven’t caught that video yet, indulge yourself. Clay Wendler, the man behind RTC’s work, understands that Berry is more than just the conglomeration of amazing statistics on the field that Kissel summarizes above.
He brings something else to the table, something we haven’t seen in approximately twelve years.
Exhibit A: in the opening seconds of the video, you have Berry stare down the Ravens as they go through their pre-game rituals prior to last year’s fateful playoff loss. I’ll say it: everything in Berry’s stance screams Derrick Thomas to me: ultimate confidence, ultimate pride in Arrowhead and the Chiefs, and utter contempt for any force of nature that’s remotely disagreeable to those aforementioned things. Perhaps Berry is the closest we’ve come to recapturing DT’s magic.
Not that he’d be alone. We have some amazing talent on this defense right now that is reminiscent of Thomas. Tamba Hali’s unstoppable motor and near flawless technique has put Kansas City back on the map as a premier place of passrushing. Brandon Flowers plays with the same refusal to back down in the face of absolutely any opponent (at times, including the refs). DJ’s rare speed is certainly reminiscent of DT, and occasionally lassoes in some impressive plays. For ten years I’ve regarded Thomas as the patron saint of the Chiefs defense. We finally now seem to be building a squad worthy of him.
But let’s remember precisely why Derrick Thomas has a bust in the Hall of Fame. He was a once-in-a-generation combination of skill, speed, power, and most of all, indefatigable passion. All while being a world class citizen in KC. And I do not think we’ve seen its equal in Chiefs red until Eric Berry.
I’ll fully admit, I’m being premature after one season in all my fanboy-ness. Consider it an undying appreciation for the player Derrick Thomas was, and the desperation that we see it again in a Chiefs uniform.
It certainly doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait long.