As I traveled from San Diego to Denver on Monday, I prepared myself to receive news on Eric Berry’s injury and I was prepared for what I heard.
That’s just the way life is going for the Kansas City Chiefs. In a wicked stream of terrible blows, the Chiefs may have just endured the blow that will be the hardest and most difficult to overcome. Berry is out for the season with a torn ACL he suffered Sunday in a stunning 41-7 home loss to Buffalo for the defending AFC West champions. I know it’s early and anything can happen, but I don’t see how the Chiefs work their way of out this hole to make a strong division title defense.
In just his second season, Berry is the team’s most important defensive player, in a virtual dead heat with champion pass-rusher Tamba Hali. As a rookie, Berry made the Pro Bowl and he established himself as one of the team’s most reliable players. The No. 5 overall pick of the draft was instinctive and he made key plays. Most importantly, he played every snap of the season.
He didn’t make it through the first game this year.
It makes you wonder if this is going to be one of those seasons for the Chiefs, who have endured a stunning spate of injuries. In the preseason finale, fellow 2010 rookie star, tight end Tony Moeaki, blew out his knee and was lost for the season. Add a thumb injury to No. 1 pick, receiver Jonathan Baldwin, that he reportedly injured in a late-camp fight with teammate Thomas Jones and a season-ending Achilles injury suffered after camp by key free-agent pickup Brandon Siler and the Chiefs are up against it.
And that’s not even putting into account how unorganized and unprepared they look on the field.
The show has to march on and the Chiefs have to find a way to move on without Berry. They surely will look at the waiver wire, but it will mean bigger roles for the likes of Kendrick Lewis and Jon McGraw. Berry can’t be replaced, though. He was an elite presence at the back of the defense that gave Kansas City’s defense both creditability and toughness. This is the next Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu we’re talking about.
How can the Chiefs rebound from this blow? Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. doesn’t know if they can.
“Berry -- like Moeaki on defense -- is one of those guys that is a matchup beater,” Williamson said. “He can hang with any type of receiving threat, a (Oakland running back) Darren McFadden or (San Diego tight end) Antonio Gates for example. That is invaluable. Not only is it brutal for this season, but also both these injuries slow down the long term growth of the franchise. It’s a killer.”