Player Spotlight: Bernard Berrian and His Role in 2011
Bernard Berrian has never been a dominant wide receiver, as he has posted moderate numbers throughout his NFL tenure.
While in Chicago, Berrian had acquired a reputation for being a promising talent and consistent receiver as exemplified by his last two years in the Bears organization.
In his last two years, he had an average of 61 receptions, scored 11 touchdowns and was considered to be on the bubble of becoming a great receiver.
Coming off of those campaigns he joined the Minnesota Vikings who signed him to a contract that had compensated him fairly well. He was paid to be the "go-to guy" for the Vikings and, in his first year, it seemed to be a good investment.
Despite his reception totals dropping to 48 in the 2008-09 season, Berrian racked up 964 yards and scored seven receiving touchdowns.
By this time, Berrian was starting to gain more attention from the mainstream media and fans alike as he was mostly overshadowed by other players in his position.
At the end of the season, the Minnesota Vikings signed Brett Favre.
Berrian has basically said that Favre never connected with him and he felt shunned which is why his production dipped in the 2009-10 seasons.
You have to look closely at exactly what was happening at this point to find the reason why Berrian dropped off the radar, and why he will regain his old form now that Donovan McNabb is in Minnesota.
Berrian, prior to Favre, had been the primary receiver in Minnesota with quarterbacks who did not have the ability that Favre had brought to this team. The difference in his numbers lays primarily with himself and not Brett Favre.
Favre had brought something to the Vikings that they had not had in years prior: a quarterback with the ability to survey the entire field and make throws to anyone anywhere. Prior to Favre, there were limited capabilities which made Berrian the primary focal point in the passing attack.
What Favre did was elevate the ability of Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Visante Shiancoe, by a quarterback capable of utilizing all of his weapons. Due to Berrian's inability to get open, Favre would rely on others to move the ball.
Bernard Berrian found himself in a situation where there was too much ball distribution and a quarterback who didn't need to rely on him as his only option.
The effects of this carried over to Favre's last season with the Vikings, but by then there were so many other issues that he faded away into obscurity in the Vikings offense.
In 2011, look for things to be very different.
With the arrival of Donovan McNabb, and the departure of Sidney Rice and Favre, Berrian is poised to regain his form from years past.
The Vikings are not very deep at the receiver position, as Greg Camarillo and Michael Jenkins are very average receivers, and Percy Harvin has to prove that he can be a No. 1 receiver as I just don't see him being one.
Harvin's strong points are as the second option or being the third receiver in a set, not the first, and that's where Berrian surpasses him.
Berrian is now back to a similar role where he will be relied upon and be given more looks to become the primary target for Donovan McNabb as he will obviously stand out amidst this group.
Berrian needs to be in a system where his peers are not as equally capable as he, to provide the Vikings with the numbers he has posted in the past, which was the reason for signing him when he was a free agent.
I think it is unfair for Berrian to put the responsibility of his shortcomings on someone else, regardless of whom that person is, when the fact is that he needs to elevate his own play before he can find fault in others.
With the current Vikings team and the observation I had made, Berrian should be targeted more and can easily end up with 60 to 70 receptions, close to 1,000 yards and see his touchdowns totals rebound to around eight.
Berrian is now in the right place at the right time, and if he fails to generate those numbers or come close to regaining his old form, then it should be time for the Vikings to look to the draft or trade for another capable receiver.
I do think Berrian's own worst enemy is himself, as he had caught the ill effects of the wide receiver ego prior to Favre's arrival but got a wake up call over the past two seasons.
I believe Berrian when he has said that he is ready to work hard and return to his former self, but it remains to be seen if those are empty words or not.
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