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The KC Chiefs defense with and without Eric Berry

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There has been a lot of discussion surrounding Eric Berry's lack of a contract extension this off season. A lot of people have thrown numbers around to argue the case for and against signing Berry to a long term deal. The reports suggest Berry's camp was looking for $12 million per year.

With such a large chunk of the salary cap potentially going to a long term deal for Berry it is a good idea to compare how the Chiefs defense has done statistically with and without Berry playing.

Which Games Should be Used?

Before I started gathering the stats I had to make sure the games chosen weren't flawed in some way or another. I tried to think of every possible circumstance that might significantly affect the Chiefs defense in one way or another. I was able to think of the following two circumstances:

  • Justin Houston did not play
  • The opposing QB was not a consistent starter
I immediately threw out each of these games. I chose to remove games without Justin Houston because of his obvious affect on the defense. I chose to remove games without consistent QB starters because I didn't want to include games against QBs who the Chiefs defense may not have known much about. I also wanted to see how the Chiefs defense did against established quarterbacks.

This left us with a total of 21 games to compare, 13 of the games had Berry starting and eight of them did not. Below is a list of the games.

Date QB Faced Opponent Berry Played
9/15/2013 Tony Romo Cowboys Yes
9/29/2013 Eli Manning Giants Yes
11/17/2013 Peyton Manning Broncos Yes
11/24/2013 Philip Rivers Chargers Yes
1/4/2014 Andrew Luck Colts Yes
9/14/2014 Peyton Manning Broncos Yes
9/21/2014 Ryan Tannehill Dolphins No
9/29/2014 Tom Brady Patriots No
10/5/2014 Colin Kaepernick 49ers No
10/19/2014 Philip Rivers Chargers No
11/16/2014 Russel Wilson Seahawks Yes
11/20/2014 Derek Carr Raiders Yes
11/30/2014 Peyton Manning Broncos No
12/14/2014 Derek Carr Raiders No
12/21/2014 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers No
12/28/2014 Philip Rivers Chargers No
9/28/2015 Aaron Rodgers Packers Yes
10/11/2015 Jay Cutler Bears Yes
10/18/2015 Teddy Bridgewater Vikings Yes
11/1/2015 Matt Stafford Lions Yes
11/22/2015 Philip Rivers Chargers Yes


The Numbers

I took passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and points allowed in games where Berry did and did not play. I compared the allowed stats against the opponents average stats. The point is to see if the Chiefs defense performed better with or without Berry.

For instance, on September 3, 2013 against the Cowboys the Chiefs offense allowed 281 passing yards, 37 rushing yards, and 16 points. The Cowboys averaged 255.2 passing yards, 94.0 rushing yards, and 27.4 points per game during the 2013 season. The Chiefs with Eric Berry in tow, held the Cowboys to 110.1 percent of their average passing game, 39.4 percent of their average rushing game, and 58.4 percent of their average points scored.

Below is a table for the remainder of the games where Berry played.

Chiefs Yards and Points Allowed With Eric Berry Compared to the Opponents Average
Date Passing% Rushing% Points%
9/15/2013 1.101 0.394 0.584
9/29/2013 0.838 1.176 0.380
11/17/2013 0.944 0.888 0.712
11/24/2013 1.383 0.847 1.653
1/4/2014 1.825 0.918 1.844
9/14/2014 0.802 0.789 0.797
11/16/2014 0.773 1.182 0.813
11/20/2014 0.841 2.310 1.519
9/28/2015 1.361 1.064 1.652
10/11/2015 0.988 0.751 0.861
10/18/2015 1.174 0.608 0.702
11/1/2015 0.732 0.971 0.446
11/22/2015 0.497 0.612 0.150
TOTAL: 1.020 0.962 0.932

On average, the Chiefs with Berry on the field do a little worse against passing offenses, a little better against rushing offenses, and a little better in regards to total points per game.

Let's look at this same table for games where Berry did not play.

Chiefs Yards and Points Allowed Without Eric Berry Compared to the Opponents Average
Date Passing% Rushing% Points%
9/21/2014 0.756 1.205 0.617
9/29/2014 0.837 0.695 0.478
10/5/2014 0.883 1.257 1.152
10/19/2014 0.679 0.808 0.917
11/30/2014 0.589 1.918 0.963
12/14/2014 0.988 1.006 0.823
12/21/2014 0.691 0.614 0.733
12/28/2014 0.929 1.311 0.321
TOTAL: 0.794 1.102 0.751

Without Berry the Chiefs defense did significantly better against the pass, slightly worse against the run, and significantly better in points allowed on average.

Another quick comparison....

  • The Chiefs with Berry held their opponents to less than their average passing yards 61.5 percent of the time. Without Eric Berry they held their opponents to less than their average passing yards 100 percent of the time.
  • With Eric Berry the Chiefs held their opponents to less than their average rushing yards 69.2 percent of the time. Without Eric Berry the Chiefs held their opponents to less than their average rushing yards 37.5 percent of the time.
  • With Eric Berry the Chiefs held their opponents to less than their average points scored 69.2 percent of the time. Without Eric Berry the Chiefs held their opponents to less than their average points scored 87.5 percent of the time.

What About Wins and Losses?

I didn't want to include wins and losses but my curiosity got the best of me. In the games we used for this article the Chiefs were 5-8 with Berry, and 5-3 without Berry. Take this with a grain of salt, obviously.

Dude, Small Sample Size

Yes, this is a small sample size to form any sort of absolutely concrete conclusion. I was curious if there were any major outliers in these games. I love Eric Berry as a person and a player. He's a truly amazing human being. John Dorsey is faced with an extremely difficult task in handling Berry's contract situation. It very well could be the most difficult personnel decision John Dorsey will ever be faced with.