Kansas City Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, and so far he’s having a tremendous 2013 season.
In three games, Berry has notched 13 tackles, .5 sacks, one fumble recovery, one interception and one interception returned for a touchdown. While those numbers may not be groundbreaking, they don’t speak the true story of Berry’s impact for Kansas City. He’s literally everywhere on the field.
Berry has the perfect combination of size and physicality, plus speed and athleticism, and that makes him a tremendous safety in the NFL. He has game-changing ability, and he showed some of that in the Chiefs’ last game against Philadelphia.
Berry’s first interception and touchdown on the year came in the first quarter against the Eagles. Specifically, Berry’s huge play came on the Eagles’ first drive.
Let’s check out the film.
As you cans see below, Philadelphia is lined up trips right with the back offset to the right. Kansas City is countering with a Cover 3 look. The cornerback on top is bailing into his deep third. The cornerback on the bottom looks to be playing man against the one on his side. Husain Abdullah is playing the flats to the trips side, and Derrick Johnson will be sliding over to cover the hook to curl zone over No. 3. The only thing that keeps this from being a true cover three is that Berry seems to be spying on receiver No. 3 or giving him bracket coverage, which means he’ll cover over the top of the seams. Either way, this was called perfectly by Bob Sutton because it allows Johnson to jump the route and Berry to clean up. I’ve also given you the routes Philadelphia ran so you can see how this coverage worked out in Kansas City’s favor:
Though Kansas City calls the right coverage, what really makes this play work out for the Chiefs is the fact that Michael Vick stared down his receiver. You can see how he’s locked in on his target in the picture below, and Johnson reads that, allowing him to get a jump on the throw:
A lot of credit on this play has to be given to the play-call and to Johnson for tipping the ball, but it’s Berry who ultimately capitalizes and makes the play, putting the Chiefs up 10-0 early in the first quarter.
When you put a talented player in the right position to succeed and make plays, you end up with defensive takeaways like this.
Kansas City’s defense this year has been spectacular, and while much credit has to be given to the front seven, having a player like Berry who can make plays and capitalize behind them is a huge reason why the Chiefs’ can be so aggressive.
Note: Film via NFL Rewind. Markings are my own.