Nov 3, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive end Alan Branch (90) and Kansas City Chiefs guard Jeff Allen (71) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Chiefs beat the Bills 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Boom or Bust: Now Or Never For Jeff Allen


November 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs guard Jeff Allen (71) blocks during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the off season we will highlight some key players who need to make “a leap” in their quality of play for the Chiefs to make the playoffs in 2014. We’ll call this feature “Boom or Bust.”

March saw a massive turnover in offensive line personnel. Gone are Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah, and Geoff Schwartz; in comes Jeff Linkenbach. And Kansas City may not be done with adding linemen before the draft.

Personnel turnover has bent conversation towards “who will play right guard” and “can Eric Fisher handle left tackle,” both valid questions. One question not discussed enough is whether Jeff Allen, who will be entering his third season with the Chiefs, can make the leap to become a serviceable offensive linemen.

Allen’s first two seasons with the Chiefs have been ugly. Some of this is due to his switch from tackle to guard, some due to his youth, and some due to the switch in offensive schemes. These three things made Allen the weakest link in Kansas City’s interior offensive line.

2013 Interior Linemen PFF Grades
 
 
PlayerRun Blocking GradePass Blocking GradeOverall Grade
Geoff Schwartz+8.9+6.8+18.6
Jon Asamoah+2.0+5.4+7.9
Rodney Hudson-4.6+3.3+1.9
Rishaw Johnson-1.4-1.4-2
Rokevious Watkins+0.2-1.8-2.2
Jeff Allen-10.6-6.4-12

Allen finished the season as the Chiefs worst run blocker (-10.6 PFF grade) and the second worst pass blocker (-6.5 PFF grade). Opposing defenses took advantage of the hole in the Chiefs line and created 32 quarterback pressures (including five sacks) with players who were supposed to be occupied by Allen.

What makes this even more terrifying is Allen will be flanked by Fisher in 2014. The two combined to allow 12 of Kansas City’s 35 sacks allowed, 10 quarterback hits, and 57 quarterback hurries. Consider those numbers and then remember the pair of linemen missed a combined four games. This is not an optimal situation to have those two paired on Alex Smith‘s blind side.

At least it is not optimal on paper.

Aside from experience and a change in offensive scheme, Allen simply was not strong enough to handle powerful linemen and pass rushers. Many of his pressures allowed came on players where the pass rusher simply ran him over or powered his way into the pocket. Strength is Allen’s biggest weakness.

Watch him (71, left of center) allow his man to power his way to Alex Smith on a three-step drop. He’s literally getting shoved backwards.

Fortunately for the Chiefs, Allen has enrolled himself into one of football’s elite performance programs for offensive linemen. Both he and Donald Stephenson will be working with LeCharles Bentley on getting into “offensive linemen” shape for 2014, the same program Geoff Schwartz used prior to last season. The key with Bentley’s program is it teaches linemen how to workout in a way that is appropriate for offensive linemen. Bentley works on building strength and quickness in addition to teaching linemen how to study film.

It should also be noted Allen is a former second round draft pick, the last second round pick made by Scott Pioli. Allen was considered to be the sixth best guard in his class and was the 44th overall selection. In theory, there is talent there with Allen. Maybe an off season with Bentley will put him in a body that makes more sense for his game.

By no means does working out with Bentley mean Allen is suddenly going to become an all-Pro lineman, but it may help bring up his performance to a more suitable level. And Kansas City desperately needs it to be average if they are going to build on their 2013 season.

 

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  • Daniel Mayfield

    I think those 2 should work with Bentley. Along with Fisher, since he’s gonna be moved to a different position.

    If I was Reid, Dorsey, or even the OL coach….I would wisely and gently talk to those players about going to that program.
    They might start, or already, having their doubts about the strength in just “their group” The OLmen Group, or something like that, cause they lost some key players, Fisher was moved to another position. (That’s just an idea though)
    I know Fisher and Hudson both did pretty good but they can still improve. Same for Stephenson.

    • Ben Nielsen

      One thing to consider is Bentley is charging money for his services while the program the Chiefs run is free to the player. Asking a player to spend money (a good sum at that) is not something a team should do. In fact, I think the program works best when a player chooses to do it on his own.

      • Daniel Mayfield

        I didn’t think of it like that. Just thinking about an upgraded OL.
        Oh well. Glad to see Allen is going with it.

  • Josh Landers

    I really hope that program works for him. I think fish and Stephenson will be ok. Hudson as well. I’m not sure what to make of rishaw Johnson yet but I trust r and d to put together a competitive roster.

    • Daniel Mayfield

      They did before, not just last season, so I think they can now too.

      I’d still like to see a few of those guys hit that program.

    • tm1946

      Might add Kush to your list of players who will improve and be ready to play. Hudson will be some kind of free agent next year.

  • sidibeke

    If I’m reading those grades correctly, he was worst in run and pass blocking, and by what seems to me a wide margin.

    • Ben Nielsen

      For interior linemen, yes. The list does not include the tackles.

      • sidibeke

        Ah. Thanks for clearing that up for me, Ben.

        • Ben Nielsen

          No problem. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Roger Mihalko

    The money they didn’t spend they should send all the lineman to the camp and pay for it.

  • berttheclock

    I do not know where this “considered to be the sixth best guard in his class” comes from, as I have read the same before. For the 2012 draft, Allen was listed as a tackle on most mock drafts and rating systems. Even then, Walter Football said he was a better run blocker than a pass blocker. Funny thing about the rated guards, Osemele of Iowa State was consistently rated as the 3rd best guard available behind DeCastro and Glenn and Pioli left him on the board when, he, once again and again and again, reached and elevated Allen. BTW, that 2012 class of guards was not the finest the draft has ever seen. Many of the picks have not fared well in the NFL with a few exceptions, including Osemele with the Ravens. However, one of those who did not fare well in the beginning is, now, a Chiefs player. Rokevious Watkins.

    Bentley, the car, is owned by Volkswagen. Even if the footballer Bentley could turn Allen into a Passat, he would end up being better than he was last season.

  • berttheclock

    Last season, Allen was better known as, either, The Turnstile or Maitre D’ by defensive linemen, as all they had to do was turn him or ask him for the best table beside or atop Alex Smith

  • Stan Colbert

    I am really concerned about the o-line this year playing the NFC West! Every team has a solid d-line! Allen’s best move so far has been to be carried to the QB! I was surprised he kept his starting position last year! Would love to see second round pick for quality OG! Oh well…