News broke recently that franchise designated safety Eric Berry would be returning to the Chiefs on August 28, thus ending his ‘holdout’ and would be back in the fold.
This is good news for a team, especially a defense, that has not looked good, for the most part, yet this preseason. With so much on the line for this season, having your star safety return to the fold is not only important, but it’s vital to this team achieving it’s goal, of winning the AFC and reaching that ever elusive Super Bowl.
What will be curious to see, depending on our views on the defenses performance in the game against the Bears, what impact Eric Berry will truly have on this defense and it’s performance. Eric Berry’s return from cancer last year was captivating, and ended the season with solid performance after solid performance, after struggling (as the rest of the defense did) to start the season. Where should we expect to see Eric Berry contribute and aid the defense going forward in 2016?
- First and foremost, run defense. While I certainly am no scout or have truly historical view of safety play in the NFL, Berry’s ability to provide quality run support, really aids the front seven of the defense, allowing the Chiefs to, in essence, play with an 8 man front.
- Second is leadership and overall presence. Having ‘the guy’ on the field can lead others to relax, play relentlessly and attack, whereas they perhaps are playing timid or worried, as they don’t have a safety valve or ‘the guy’ with them to help clean up any issues or messes.
- Thirdly, and this piggy backs off the previous notes, offenses must always account for 29, and find him on the field. With the growing likelihood that Justin Houston will miss significant time in 2016, Berry’s play will be vital to this team winning games. His play must make offenses take note and on alert.
While having Berry back is a good thing, and a helpful thing, this front seven must show they are able to generate more pressure and more of a push before Berry’s return will have any true or a meaningful impact on the defense. The loss of Houston in conjunction with the issues surrounding Tamba Hali (health/age) and Dee Ford (ability/effectiveness) could really hinder and limit any impact Berry will have.
We will see what impact Berry truly has on this team. His greatest impact may actually come in the locker room as opposed to the field. Obviously we’ll see what happens as it plays out on the field.