What should the Kansas City Chiefs expect from Eric Berry in 2018?

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04: Eric Berry /

After missing 15 in 2017, Eric Berry will make his return to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. What we should expect from Berry in his return?

The last time Kansas City Chiefs’ fans saw Eric Berry on the football field, he was coming off the greatest season of his career. His 2017 season appeared to be off to a good start as he had seven total tackles in just one half against the New England Patriots. He played some very good snaps guarding Rob Gronkowski and helped the Chiefs on their way to a huge opening night victory. Unfortuantely, he soon fell down and everyone in K.C. knew exactly what happened. We’ve seen it far too often the last few years—that Berry would be gone for the year with an Achilles injury.

The only upside to the injury was that it happened on opening day, meaning Berry has nearly 365 days to recover before the 2018 season kicks off. With an injury as significant as a torn Achilles, it’s huge that he has a full year to heal and be ready to go. As recent videos have shown, it appears Berry is already close to being game ready.

The big question is once those games start, what can we all expect from Berry? I’ll say right off the bat that if anyone expects to see the 2016 version of Berry, you will be disappointed. His body has now been through a torn ACL, a ruptured Achilles and a battle with cancer. To expect Berry to be the as good as he was in 2016 at age 29, with those hits to the body and not playing a full schedule since 2016 is not fair to him.

As we’ve seen in the past, when it comes to Berry, I’d never say there is something he can’t do. It would not be a shocking revelation if he did return to greatness right off the bat, however, I just don’t think it should be expected. What I do expect is a very good Berry to appear in every game this season.

After his previous two major injuries, Berry has had solid next seasons. He’s averaged 73 total tackles, one interception and 10 passes defended. He set a career high with 3.5 sacks following his ACL injury and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year following his cancer battle. While most of the time you expect a player to have to ease in and work through a tough year back, Berry has a history of bucking that trend.

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I see no reason not to expect his trend to continue and for him to return to his fiery self. It’s hard to talk stats with Berry because they never tell the whole story with him. He will get tackles, he’ll make a big play or two and he’ll make hits that knock the air out of the guys. But for the Chiefs and Berry what means more is just him being on the field.

Berry is a guy who is always where he is supposed to be. Bob Sutton can run the defense he wants and know that Berry will be where he’s supposed to be and do what Sutton expects him to do. Daniel Sorensen or Ron Parker won’t be trying to fill shoes they have no chance of filling. This leaves those guys free to do what they do best and that’s be a supporter.

Berry will also be a coach on the field who not only knows his spot, but he’ll help put everyone else in theirs as well. This will be huge as the Chiefs are losing their defensive quarterback from the last 13 years in Derrick Johnson, who is now a free agent.  With the departure of DJ and likely Tamba Hali and maybe more, Berry will be the new general on the defensive side of the ball. He will be the one who keeps the energy up, the player all others will look to.

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Berry will be the best safety on the Chiefs roster in 2018. He will likely be a top 10 safety in the NFL. I also have a feeling he’ll be a candidate for his second NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. He will be the vocal leader of the team and a huge part of what will be a young defense with a lot to prove after an abysmal 2017 season. Berry may not be the best safety in the league in 2018 and he may not earn his $16 million salary he’ll make, but I can almost guarantee that Berry will be the best player he is capable of being in 2018.