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

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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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