Kansas City Chiefs Need Unexpected Hero To Emerge Among Young Safeties After Eric Berry Injury

The Kansas City Chiefs may have a much bigger problem than just getting over the loss to the Bills.

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Kansas City Chiefs Need Unexpected Hero To Emerge Among Young Safeties After Eric Berry Injury

When Kendrick Lewis was the “other” starting safety next to Pro Bowl rookie Eric Berry, the Kansas City Chiefs young secondary and specifically the safeties seemed to be in good hands. Lewis was certainly a pleasant surprise as a fifth round choice who started 10 games and had 3 interceptions and a forced fumble. Now that Eric Berry has been placed on injured reserve, however, the story becomes an entirely different one concerning the Chiefs corps of safeties.

Berry was the hero among the unit, the guy with game-changing talent that made not only everyone around him better but also made their jobs easier. Now Lewis must become that key safety that steps up to another level while hoping the bit players the Chiefs have around can become something else entirely.

Sabby Piscitelli and Reshard Langford are the best bets. Jon McGraw is the veteran special teams player who is a known commodity at this point, and picturing him as the long-term starter for the rest of 2011 isn’t a proposition anyone would be too happy with. Piscitelli has been lambasted in the media for his poor technique and overall play, but clearly the Chiefs see something there to keep him around.

Then there’s Langford, who was a late cut in training camp to pare down the roster to 53. He’s a four-year starter from Vanderbilt who was also the defensive captain. He fits the SEC mold that Scott Pioli loves as well as the high character/leadership mentality that is a mark of so many of his draft choices thus far in KC. Yet Langford wasn’t drafted and signed with the Eagles after the ‘09 Draft. He eventually made his way to KC’s roster off and on the last two seasons.

Langford and Piscitelli both have a nice opportunity in front of them if the Chiefs are willing to give them a long look. Piscitelli was resuscitate his reputation with a decent year filling in for Berry and Langford can finally cement his place on an NFL roster for the long haul. Both players stand much to gain from Berry’s injury, and the Chiefs are hoping that at least one of them seizes the moment in a major way.

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Should The Kansas City Chiefs Replace Eric Berry With Reshard Langford Or Darren Sharper?

The headline here is misleading, so let’s state that admission for the books before we begin. Both names are replaceable with another option. It could easily read “Should the Chiefs replace Eric Berry with Ricky Price or Ken Hamlin?” The main idea is that the Kansas City Chiefs have internal, familiar options to work with and foreign free agents they could bring in to replace Eric Berry, lost to injury for the year against the Buffalo Bills.

The question, then, is which way should the Chiefs replace him. That’s assuming, of course, that a roster move is coming, which even the Chiefs official site concedes should be on its way despite the Chiefs failure to place Berry on Injured Reserve just yet. But at some point soon, the assumption is that KC will have a new name on the 53-man roster at safety and, given the level of talent at the position, this player should see significant playing time.

Ricky Price and Reshard Langford are already familiar with the team’s playbook and defensive scheme. They are known commodities by both the coaches and the players. That helps tremendously since coaches plan around what they know their guys can and cannot do.

That’s also the downside, given that the team kept Sabby Piscitelli over either one of those players for what he brought to the roster. We’ve discussed Piscitelli’s league-wide reputation before, and it’s hard to believe a playoff team from last year is banking on the guy turning it around, even if some talent is there.

The Chiefs cannot afford to give up the big play with the way their offense is structured around the run and short passing situations. Thus, if the Chiefs find themselves in a bind, they unravel quickly. The safety position is that all-important slot that prevents such plays from happening, and the Chiefs now have players in that position who struggle with just that.

This is why Langford can’t just be familiar, but he has to be successful in the Chiefs scheme. And if not, then the Chiefs need to bring in a Darren Sharper or Ken Hamlin or some other free agent safety who can step in and help fill in with their experience and intelligence. The season is still in its infancy and it’s no time to start playing young players to see what you have for the future when solid veteran free agents are right in front of you.

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Kansas City Chiefs Can Still Fill Holes Via Free Agency With Alge Crumpler, Darren Sharper, Nick Kaczur

Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs are hurting. If Chiefs fans thought the preseason was bad, then the regular season must be brutal to handle. The reality is that week one left the Chiefs looking worse than any other NFL team out there — including the Carolina Panthers, who were the worst team in the NFL in 2010. However, week one is just that and there are 16 more weeks of the regular season to go. For anyone to write off the Chiefs — or any team for that matter — that would be a mistake.

Instead, the Chiefs need to concentrate on filling the holes that have showed themselves either through poor play on the field or due to injuries. The Chiefs certainly have both, but Scott Pioli can take heart knowing there are significant free agents still available for the taking — that is, if he’s willing to move off of that $30 million or so sitting at his disposal. Let’s take a look:

Nick Kaczur – This move seems the most obvious from a player perspective given Pioli’s familiarity with the former New England guard. However, it makes the least sense given what fans believe the Chiefs need most. But the Chiefs must have excellent line play to win — both in establishing a running game and allowing time for Matt Cassel to fire downfield. Kaczur was the third round pick in 2005 of Pioli’s in New England, so he knows him well. And given the lack of depth along this most important position, the Chiefs could certainly use another capable body .

Alge Crumpler – Tony Moeaki is out and the lack of a playmaker at tight end is hurting the Chiefs at this point. Leonard Pope is a nice sized target, but both he and Jake O’Connell do not have the hands that Alge Crumpler has. Crumpler is 33 and only caught six passes last year for New England, but let’s not forget they also added Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez both last year. Crumpler should still have plenty in the tank for another run around the league, and he’d help the Chiefs in a major point of need.

Darren Sharper –
The veteran safety has been around the block multiple times, and he missed significant time last year due to injuries. So he’s definitely a shade of his former self, but given the state of the Chiefs safety position, Sharper’s strong veteran presence, keen intelligence and nose for the ball are incredible assets. Remember, just two years ago he had 9 interceptions. This could be the most important signing for the Chiefs if they make it.

Channing Crowder/Lofa Tatupu -
At this point, the Chiefs still haven’t addressed the injury to Brandon Siler in the preseason, which was intended to shore up one of the holes they had before the injuries took place. Inside linebacker could still use an upgrade and these guys are both still available on the free agency list. Certainly they’ll both find homes soon enough for this season, but the Chiefs could certainly use help at ILB.

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VIDEO: Eric Berry Injury From Stevie Johnson Block During Chiefs-Bills Game

It's a short video, but it gives you the best look we can find at what happened to Eric Berry specifically during the Chiefs v. Bills match-up from this weekend. Berry was apparently injured on a block from Stevie Johnson, the promising wideout for the Bills, and it was announced earlier today that Berry is out for the entire 2011 season.

Here's the video below:


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Kansas City Chiefs Might Have NFL's Worst Safety Tandem Without Eric Berry

The news only gets worse by the day at this point if you’re the Kansas City Chiefs. One day after suffering a humiliating home loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs learned the worst possible news concerning Eric Berry’s injury stemming from the first quarter of that game. Berry is now out for the year, as you likely know by now, but what you might not know is that the Chiefs couldn’t be set up any worse at safety than they already were.

Now that Berry is out, who will the Chiefs turn to? Even though decent safeties were on the market this off-season even in a back-up role, the Chiefs stuck with Jon McGraw for another year and brought in Sabby Piscitelli from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Promising youngster Reshard Langford was cut in the process, leaving many to wonder what was going on.

The reason for the furor over a back-up safety position wasn’t about foresight on anyone’s part concerning Berry’s injury. Instead, Piscitelli was arguably the single worst player in pro football last season. Aside from Jake Delhomme, Piscitelli was listed as the least valuable player in football over at Grantland recently. He’s also listed as the worst safety in football in 2009 by Football Outsiders. Not exactly a vote of confidence, despite the fact Todd Haley apparently likes him enough to give him a nickname (“Jersey Shore”).

There’s no way for a team to completely be okay with a loss of a player like Eric Berry. The Seahawks would miss Earl Thomas, the Ravens would miss Ed Reed and the Steelers aren’t the same without Troy Polamalu. But the Chiefs aren’t just going to miss Berry. They’re going to be lost without Berry. He was the MVP of the run defense and an impact player all around. He was a game-changer that offensive coordinators had to constantly worry about. Now the Chiefs are below average and will give up more plays than they already did against the Bills last weekend.

Just when you thought the Chiefs had hit bottom, here comes some more bad news. The Chiefs have an uphill battle ahead to find a new defensive identity.

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Eric Berry Injury: Todd Haley Takes Responsibility For Having Replacement Ready

In his post-game comments after the Chiefs embarrassing 41-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City head coach Todd Haley made it clear that he was responsible for not having his team ready to play. He also took it upon himself to find a replacement for Eric Berry — something that didn’t happen during the game.

For those who missed it, Eric Berry went down early in the game with a leg injury of some kind and word should be coming later this week about the severity. Yet as Haley describes, injuries are a part of the NFL and teams must have the depth to cope with such a loss. And that’s something Haley says he didn’t do.

“Anytime you lose somebody who is a big part of your team and plays a lot of plays, that’s going to be something that affects you,” said Haley after the game. “But again, how much it affects you is up to us to have guys ready to fill in. I talk about it all the time. Injuries are a part of the game. If you lose somebody, you’ve got to have somebody ready step in and fill the void. In some cases, as history shows, those guys that step in that you’re thinking are a stop-gap to fill the void become better players. But today that didn’t occur.”

At this point, the Chiefs have a rather pedestrian secondary — at least at the safety position — without Berry. They failed to draft any help late in the 2011 NFL Draft and opted to sign a guy like Sabby Piscitelli. That’s the type of player who is going to be picked on all day by Matt Stafford next week unless the Chiefs can find an answer before the Lions game in week two. Of course the best case scenario is that Berry is fine and he comes back with no problem.

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