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The Rapacious Eric Berry, Pt. 1

Tim Ruskell traded Julian Peterson then drafted Aaron Curry. We may never know if the moves were in fact interdependent, but they certainly were connected. In the short term, the move cost Seattle. Peterson was an irreplaceable part of the Seahawks pass rush. Curry could not step in and replace one of the best pass rushing linebackers in the league. With any luck, Seattle can get the same kind of production out of Curry that San Francisco did from Peterson. With better luck, Curry will develop into something special.

That is not a very exciting story. Peterson was getting old and was not a great run defender, but instead of addressing a need, the Seahawks created a need and then attempted to patch it with a better talent but inferior player.

History would seem to be repeating itself. Seattle had a good if not perfect or spectacular strong safety: Deon Grant. Grant recently turned 31, the same age Seattle dropped Peterson. Peterson is an athletic marvel with little injury history that should age gracefully. Grant has an even more sterling injury history, and if not the pure athlete Peterson is, did not look to be hitting a wall. The Seahawks cut Grant and now are desperately thin at safety.

So how about that Eric Berry?

Virginia Tech had the second best offense in college football as ranked by S&P. It was the fourth best team overall. Tennessee ranked 14th overall and 14th in total offense. The Volunteers defense ranked 27th, undercut by a 44th ranked rush defense.

1. 1st and 10 at VT 26 Ryan Williams rush for 1 yard to the VTech 27.

Seahawks understand just how much value can be derived from a slot receiver. Berry lines over the left slot. His eyes are fixed on quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor adjusts the pre-snap formation, and Berry sees something he thinks tips him off. He looks over to the right corner, gestures, the right corner acknowledges, looks over to the left corner, gestures. Whatever Berry saw, he apparently read wrong, because the play is a simple run right. Berry does not factor.

2. 2nd and 9 at VT 27 Ryan Williams rush for 3 yards to the VTech 30.

Berry is again playing over the left slot. He starts playing off, surveys, and then walks up into tight coverage over Danny Coale. Coale begins a somewhat lax looking route, Berry tracks him for about three steps, sees run, fights through the block and into the tackle.

3. 3rd and 6 at VT 30 Tyrod Taylor pass complete to Jarrett Boykin for 7 yards to the VTech 37 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.

Berry is now playing on the defensive left, and is aligned over the right tight end. At the snap he shadows the tight end, first above and then slightly behind, putting himself into a slight trail position, and attempting to bait Taylor and jump the route. Taylor targets Boykin along the left sideline for the first.

4. 1st and 10 at VT 37 Ryan Williams rush for 6 yards to the VTech 43.

Berry is playing outside the left defensive end, walked up but just outside the tackle box. Grant spent much of the 2009 season in the same position. Taylor rolls right and Berry charges to contain/pressure, but the boot motion is a red herring. Williams runs left. Berry does not factor.

5. 2nd and 4 at VT 43 Ryan Williams rush for no gain to the VTech 43.

Berry is deep, playing over the right slot and opposite Coale. He drops down, fights through Coale's block and assists Herman Lathers in tackling Williams for no gain.

6. 3rd and 4 at VT 43 Tyrod Taylor pass incomplete to Dyrell Roberts.

Berry is in deep center in what looks like a true cover 1. He charges down towards the line prior to the snap, suggesting a safety blitz, but stopping five yards opposite the center. Berry is spying Taylor. After the snap, the line moves pocket left. Berry tracks the action, staying square with Taylor and between both the right wide receiver running a drag and the left wideout running a dig. The routes are arriving from opposite directions and are on different planes but both receivers are approaching the same throwing lane. Taylor sees something and fires, Berry looks ready to jump the route, but defensive end Montori Hughes jumps and bats down the pass.