We're going to compare film from the 2010 season against the Bills in week 8 and this year's game against the Bills in week 2. Same two teams yet we get different results. Lets look at what has gone wrong. We'll first examine the difference in how he's being used against the Run.
Here's a clip from the Bills game in 2010 in week 8. The down and distance is 3 and 1 with 4:25 left in 2nd quarter. The Bills are going to spread us out 5 wide with Fred Jackson lined up as a extra receiver. We're in our base 3-4 defense signaling Fitzpatrick to beat us with his arm. The thing I like about the strategy is we're not letting the Bills get us out of our base defense even though they're in a 5 wide set. We all know the Bills don't have depth at wide receiver. So why even get out of your base defense when facing a less than talented receiving core? As you can see, Berry is highlighted in the yellow circle at bottom of the screen. The key here is Berry playing in space. The Bills are going to run a right Jet sweep to Fred Jackson.
As shown on this clip below, Berry did a excellent job of coming up from the safety spot. He came up from about 10 yards off the line of scrimmage to stop Fred Jackson short of the marker. Berry's ability to do this speaks volumes of his speed and athleticism. Once again I like the fact Romeo isn't quick to switch out of the base 3-4 defense even though the Bills lined up in a 5 wide set.
Now lets fast forward to this year's game against the Bills in Week 2. Its 2nd and 10 in the 1st quarter. As you can see the Bills are lined up in a 3 wide set with Spiller in the backfield and the tight end to the left of Fitzpatrick as an extra back. We're in our usual auto dime defense: a formation we normally use against 3 or 4 wide sets. Berry is lined up as an extra linebacker next to Johnson instead of at safety. At the safety spot, we have Abe Elam playing at the top with Travis Daniels being brought down behind Johnson.
As you can see Berry is getting sucked up into the oline , gets pancaked out of the play, and has no chance to help out against the run on this play. The problem with this formation is that we played right into the Bills' hand. Instead of staying in our base 3-4 defense we got torched for a 17 yard touchdown on a simple draw play. We had Berry and Daniels on this particular play getting sucked up by the offensive line because their so close to the line of scrimmage. Going up against a 6ft 5 340 pound offensive lineman, Berry never stood a chance to make a play against the run.
This auto dime defense is causing all types of issues with how we play against the run. Its putting Berry in a vulnerable position because he's having to shed off blocks against guys that weigh 200 pounds more. Romeo also needs to realize not to come out of your base defense against teams like the Bills. This isn't the Green Bay Packers receiving core you're facing. The Bills do run a lot of spread formations, but really don't have the personnel to do so. Knowing this Romeo should've been more disciplined in his scheme and challenged the Bills to beat him throwing the ball against his base defense. Instead he opted to this auto dime defense, which Gailey knew he would, and ran the ball out of multiple receiver sets time and time again. Spiller burnt us for over 200 yard rushing in this game due to the lack of scheme and mismanagement of personnel. If we're going to use this defense, it would make more sense to line Berry up on the back end replacing Daniels or Elam. This will allow him to use his athleticism to come up and make plays. With using him as a extra linebacker in our dime defense, it takes away his play making ability. In this manner he spends more time trying to shed blocks than coming up out of the secondary making plays against the run.
Lets dive into how Berry is being misused in pass coverage. Lets look at how he was being used in 2010 in our nickel/auto dime defense. In week 8 against the Bills the play is 1st and 10 in the 4th quarter with about 30 seconds left in the game. The Bills are lined up in their 5 wide receiver set. With the ball being on about the 47 yard line and the score tied at 10 to 10, its an obvious passing situation. We're lined up in our auto dime defense where Berry and Lewis are the safeties on the back end of the defense playing a 2 deep zone. Donald Washington is the extra defensive back lined up near the line of scrimmage (In 2010 Washington and McGraw rotated as the extra defensive back lined up near the line of scrimmage). We're in a man defense so Carr takes the inside receiver and Washington switches to the outside receiver at the bottom of the screen. I have Berry highlighted with a yellow closed bracket around him so you can see his location before the ball is snapped.
As you can see, Berry does good job in coverage reading the quarterbacks eyes on the play. Fitzpatrick tried to hit Lee Evans on a slant route and loses control of the ball. The ball sails on Fitzpatrick and Berry does a good job of tracking it for an interception. The fact that he's being used on the back end of the defense allows him the freedom to help out in the secondary over the top. With Berry's natural speed and instinct, it gives him the ability to make plays like this in coverage.
Now lets look at how he's being used in pass coverage this year. Here's another play from Week 2 against the same team. Its 3rd and 12 in the 3rd quarter. The Bills are lined up in a 5 wide set. We're in our auto dime defense, except this time we play a single high formation with Travis Daniels playing as the only safety over the top. Elam is playing down near the line of scrimmage next to Flowers at the top of the screen. Berry is at his usual hybrid linebacker spot playing man to man against the tight end. I have him circled at the bottom of the screen. The Bills are going to run a five yard crossing route with Stevie Johnson that goes for a 49 yard touchdown.
Its a blown coverage on the play by Flowers and Elam, but I'm not trying to breakdown this portion of the play. Instead I want to illustrate how Berry's skill set is being wasted in our nickel defense. As we take a closer look at the play, Daniels has the angle to make the tackle on this play. However, he whiffs on the tackle because he lacks the speed and athleticism to make tackles in the open field. If that was Berry, this play would not have gone for a 49 yard touchdown. Stevie Johnson combine time was a 4.58 in the 40 yard dash. I wouldn't exactly describe that as burner speed. On the play it looks that way because of the lack of speed Travis Daniels possesses to make an open field tackle.
Berry still has all the speed and natural talent to be an effective safety for this team. In plays like the one shown above, his skill set is being wasted in the auto dime/nickel defense. Against the run he's ineffective because he spends too much time trying to fight off blocks by offensive lineman. Then against the pass he's covering less talented tight ends, and the back end of our defense is getting exposed to yards after the catch. The current Chiefs' safeties (Elam and Daniels) in the dime formation don't have the speed to make tackles in the open field, nor do they have the ability to break up passes across the middle of the field in pass coverage. I can't emphasize enough how senseless it is to not allow your most athletic safety to play in space. Instead, when running our dime/nickel defense, we have Berry in the paint ( as he calls it) which limits his ability to make plays against the run or pass. This is a another example of how a players' talent is wasted when his skill set is mismanaged by the coaches' scheme. I don't understand why Romeo has put Berry in this position when he had so much success his rookie year playing on the back end of our nickel defense.
First, Romeo needs to stay in his base 3-4 defense most of the game. This allow Berry to come up out of coverage, make plays against the run, and help in pass coverage. In addition, Romeo needs to move Berry out of the linebacker position when running the auto dime/nickel defense. Berry needs to go back to playing safety next to Lewis when using this formation-- where once again he can have the freedom to roam and make plays against the run or pass. Berry still has to work on his technique in man to man coverage. So until he develops, he's best served playing on the back end of the defense where he can be more effective.
Well there you have it. Let me know how you guys feel. hit me up twitter at pulseofdachiefs