In a season already filled with pain and embarrassment, the Kansas City Chiefs have yet another harsh reality to face.
Former first round pick Eric Berry is their absolute, worst defender.
The truth hurts.
According to Pro Football Focus, of all KC defenders who have played at least 25% of the team’s snaps, Berry has consistently been the worse Chiefs defender.
Don’t feel bad enough?
He’s the worst player on the team.
Still not ready to throw yourself off a cliff?
He’s the third worst safety, free or strong, in the NFL.
Through four games, PFF grades Berry at -7.2. Only LaRon Landry of the Jets (-8.2) and Michael Griffin of the Titans (-10.4) have been worse.
Berry has been bad in all phases of the game. His coverage grade is a -4.2. His run D is a -2.4. In the penalty department, thanks to last weekend’s debacle, he’s a -1.6.
In coverage, Berry has allowed one TD. He has been targeted 17 times, allowing 14 receptions for 150 yards and one TD. He has allowed 124 yards after the catch and QB’s throwing at him enjoy a QB rating of 123.0.
He has missed five tackles.
Now before we get into why Berry may be performing poorly, let’s cut him some slack. He has never been good in coverage. He struggled early as a rookie and improved slightly as the year went on. Then he tore his ACL and missed an entire season of football.
Still, Berry is doing poorly in the other areas he is supposed to be good at, like run support.
EB has a number of things working against him. He is still very, very young. He has only 21 professional games under his belt, but 17 of those game in 2010, which seems like an eternity ago.*
*I am not counting the few snaps he played in 2011.
Berry missing the 2011 season was, I think, a huge blow to his career. In my opinion, we are witnessing Berry going through a second rookie season. Only the Chiefs aren’t treating him like they did when he was a rookie. They are treating him like he is one of the best safeties in the NFL.
Berry isn’t right. He likely isn’t 100% physically and mentally it sure looks like he has a lot of rust to shake off.
There is no telling how long it will take Berry to get his groove back. There is a chance he could begin coming on strong as the year goes on but don’t rule out the possibility that his struggles could continue all season long. Berry plays a tough position and the Chiefs are asking more of him than he seems capable of right now.
One of the many reasons folks were projecting the KC defense to be so good this season was the return of Eric Berry. Unfortunately, to this point, Berry has been more of a liability than a help. Add to that the fact that Kendrick Lewis, another rising young star in the KC secondary, has yet to take a snap yet this season and you have a recipe for disaster.
The KC defense is struggling because other than on the corners, they have no consistent cover DBs. Berry is awful. Travis Daniels and Abe Elam are no picnics either. Javier Arenas is average at best (and an inconsistent average at that).
Eric Berry is talented enough and smart enough that he will likely get back to where he was in 2010. Eventually.
But until he does, the KC defense is likely to continue struggling.