As a Kansas City Chiefs fan going for over 25 years now, I’ve seen the lows of the mid-1980s, the highs and oh-so-close moments of the 1990s back to futility again in the 2000s. With the first round pick and fifth pick of the draft overall, Tennessee safety Eric Berry looks to help the Chiefs get a major hole plugged in their Swiss-cheese defense from last year, according to the Kansas City Star.
Head Coach Todd Haley told the newspaper that he expects Berry to help immediately even if he doesn’t start. Berry finished his last year at Knoxville with 87 tackles and 14 career interceptions. The Chiefs’ defense was 30th in the league last year and 22nd against the pass, according to USA Today.
But Can He Tackle?
One of the major problems I see with many NFL teams, but especially the Chiefs, is a lack of tackling. With Berry’s quick and sturdy frame he will hopefully not only be able to stay with many quick receivers in the league but also be able to stop the run should be called upon to do so. He’s only 5-11 so Berry will have to be quick and stout with his 211 pounds.
Berry was voted the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, which is pretty good for one of the toughest football conferences in the college game. As with any player, his ability to adapt to the professional game and learn a new system will be the key to how he performs.
And getting Berry going will be paramount to how the Chiefs do this year. The team is coming off the worst three years in franchise history, which is saying a lot after the 1980s debacle. The past 10 years I’ve seen my favorite team unable to tackle anyone and turn a respectable year into a disaster.
Even when we had good players on offense like Larry Johnson the rest of the team couldn’t keep up and he was finally let go for criticizing his coach and using a gay slur on Twitter in 2009. Unfortunately, his frustration is echoed by many fans. He started out being such a talent in KC, and he was finally degraded to a non-factor by the people around him. While he should have kept his comments to himself, his annoyance with the situation in Kansas City is valid.
Many Chiefs fans, myself included, have wondered for decades “where’s our Super Bowl?” Yeah, we had Super Bowl IV behind the legendary Len Dawson, but that was in January of 1970 when it was the last AFL-NFL Super Bowl. Forty years later, the Chiefs have been to the AFC Championship Game once, in 1993. Once in 40 years. While not as bad as the Detroit or Cleveland pro sports droughts, the futility of Kansas City’s accomplishments have not dimmed fan loyalty.
When Todd Haley took over for Herm Edwards I knew the situation he was inheriting was bad. When it went to worse last year it became a “wait till Draft Day.” After taking Eric Berry in the draft, I guess you could say the Chiefs are hoping to turn over a new leaf and maybe even an entire (Berry) bush for the 2010 campaign.
The Kansas City Star and the NFL website provided information for this article.