Allen Bailey can help Kansas City Chiefs defense become Elite

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Allen Bailey is in an enviable position, literally and figuratively.

Bailey will line up for the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive line between two players the opposing offense must scheme around.  Outside of Bailey will be the Chiefs’ newly-minted 100-Million-dollar man Justin Houston. To the inside will be Dontari Poe, who played 966 defensive snaps in 2014.  Incidentally, Poe’s snap count is more than 10% better the Ndamukong Suh, another $100 million man.  Along with Tamba Hali’s reduced salary and the return of Mike DeVito for his final contract year, Bailey has been the forgotten man during the offseason.

“He has developed into a good football player and a key member of our defense.” – John Dorsey

Bailey, while not a superstar, has a shiny new contract extension.  General manager John Dorsey signed Bailey to a four-year, $25 million contract ($6.25M ave) last season, to which he responded with career-bests in both snap count and sacks.  His 765 snaps put him solidly in the top-10 among 3-4 defensive ends and his six sacks tied for eighth at the position.  That’s a good season for a 3-4 defensive end.  Now, $25 million is a good contract, but there is room to grow for Bailey.

And while 2014 was a good season, Bailey needs to continue to grow into his contract.  He needs to produce more on the field.  His sack total is impressive for any 3-4 defensive end not named J.J. Watt, but the down-to-down production must increase for he and the Chiefs’ defense to become elite.

Pittsburgh Steelers 3-4 defensive end Cameron Heyward was just signed to a new deal averaging $9.87 million per season.  He recorded eight sacks and 33 tackles in 2014.  Many will say that’s similar to Bailey’s six and 27 tackles.  That’s true but there is another area that differentiates the level of these players.

Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey (97) leaves the field after the game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive ends in the 3-4 are not paid to be pass rushers, no matter how prevalent Watt has become at getting to the quarterback.  They are paid to stop the run and apply pressure.  Pressure, not in sacks, but in the form of QB hurries, QB hits and batted passes.  Heyward was able to nearly triple the pressure produced by Bailey in 2014, particularly in QB hurries.  Bailey hurried the opposing quarterbacks 13 times in 2014 while Heyward produced hurries on 36 plays.  In a division with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, hurrying them is a necessity of the game plan.

Next: How Can Bailey Impact 2015?