It is no secret that Eric Berry will be starting at safety for the Chiefs this season. Unless he looks absolutely terrible in camp or he is injured,
Berry will be on the field for the first defensive snap of the 2010 season. The only question that remains is, who will be standing next to him?
Berry figures to play a mix of both strong and free safety. The strong safety (Troy Palamalu) is responsible for lining up on the strong side, usually closer to the line. He is there to help stop the run and keep an eye on the SS TE. The free safety (Ed Reed) stays back to be the last line of defense and give help over the top to the corners. The general feeling is that Berry will spend most of his time at SS and will free lance at FS.
The man most figure will be the ying to Berry’s yang will be Chiefs veteran Jared Page. Page, who only started 5 games last season due to injury, has been fairly productive for the Chiefs when he has been on the field. In his 3 seasons with the Chiefs prior to last years trip to IR, Page amassed 179 tackles, 10 interceptions and 23 passes defended. Also keep in mind that Page only started 2 games his rookie season.
The big question with Page is whether or not he is a good fit for the Chiefs new 3-4 defensive scheme. Page, who was drafted in the 7th round by former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, flourished in the Chiefs cover 2 scheme. There was some question as to which “Herm guys” would survive the installing of the new regime but Page won the the starting job in 2009 under new head coach Todd Haley and played in 5 games, amassing 19 tackles, 2 passes defended and a forced fumble before being placed on injured reserve. The injury robbed Page (and us) of the same 16 game evaluation most of the other Chiefs starters received last season.
The Chiefs assigned Page a 2nd round free agent tender earlier this year which he has yet to sign. If Page thinks he is worth more than the Chiefs tender offer, he could try to force their hand and hold out. If the Chiefs feel they have a replacement for Page, however, they may trade him for a player they think can help them in other areas, especially if they believe Page won’t be a productive 3-4 player.
Who could be a suitable replacement for Page?
Find out after the jump!
Know who that is? If not, you should. He lined up with the first team at strong safety at KC’s first OTA practice yesterday.
Let me start by saying that I still think there is a good chance that Jared Page will be a starting safety for the Chiefs this year. As I said earlier, he has been productive and the Chiefs can use all the good players they can get.
However, the Chiefs seem to be very high on Langford and now that Eric Berry is in the mix, it would behoove Page to get his contract signed and get his butt to OTAs. Last year, Page didn’t sign his tender until May 29th. With more competition at his position group this year, waiting that long again could cost him his job.
Now on to Langford. Reshard was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent following the 2009 draft. He had been projected to go as high as the 5th round but slipped. The Eagles cut him with their last round of cuts on Sept. 5th, 2009 and placed him on the practice squad. He remained there until December 25th, 2009, when the Chiefs stole Phili’s Christmas and signed him to a contract.
Here is the scouting report on Langford from CBSSports.com:
"Positives: Well-built athlete with good upper- and lower-body strength. … Breaks down in space and wraps up to secure as a tackler. … Quick to attack the line of scrimmage in run support, and initiates contact with tight ends in pass coverage. … Takes on blockers in the open field. … Explosive as a hitter and can be an intimidator. … Quick feet in his pedal, can transition forward to close on the out route. … Good hands for the interception whether on tipped balls or closing on a ball in coverage. … Swarms to the ball on most every play, even if the action goes away from him. … Vocal leader, team captain. … Intelligent player. … Good special teamer who works hard to get downfield to block on return teams or drop the hammer in kick coverage.Negatives: Average height for an in-the-box safety. … Hits with his shoulder, instead of wrapping up, in the secondary and when coming downhill on running backs. … Despite his build he can be tossed aside or pushed backward by blocking tight ends on the line or at the second level. … Man cover skills are questionable. … Lacks the great vertical leap to high-point the ball. … Gets sucked in by underneath routes, leaving his cornerback vulnerable deep. … Lacks elite quickness, but has enough speed to survive."
While it assumed that Berry will play mostly SS it has not been confirmed. I wouldn’t put it passed the Chiefs to turn Langford (or someone else) into their primary SS while using Berry at the free safety position. Berry is incredibly athletic and is most often compared to Ed Reed who plays free safety for the Ravens. If the Chiefs think they can get more big, impact plays, most especially interceptions, out of Berry in the free safety spot and they feel Langford (or someone else) can play strong safety, Page could be expendable.
The Eagles were reportedly not pleased that they lost Langford and from everything I have heard, the Chiefs love him. While one day starting in an OTA practice certainly doesn’t guarantee Langford a starting spot or even a roster spot for that matter, come September, it is nice to know that the Chiefs have options at a position that was extremely shallow last season. At the very least, it should be a wake-up call to Page that he needs to get the practice with the rest of the team, lest he come back and find 1st round draft pick Eric Berry or someone else, playing his position.
I’ll have some Reshard Langford highlights later tonight in our evening post.