Jonathan Daniel Getty Images Sport
I screamed for MOAR JEFF ALLEN. So how did he do against Baltimore's huge defensive line?
I think people might know that I've been a major pusher of Jeff Allen. Maybe. I talked about it sometimes here.
I don't like the fact that he got onto the field because of an injury, but I AM glad he made it onto the field. So far, with him in there and Ryan Lilja at center our OL doesn't seem to have missed a beat. If anything, they've looked better.
But how is Jeff Allen really DOING? That's a tough question to answer based on stats alone. Even ProFootballFocus, for all their efforts, can't really give us much in the way of advanced stats when it comes to OL. They've got their grades, but as I've said before, I'm not really sure how seriously to take grades that say Glenn Dorsey is a better run-stopping DE than Tyson Jackson
So there's only one thing to do... go back and watch the snaps myself. So I figured if I'm going to do it anyways, I might as well write what I see while I'm watching it. Given time constraints I'm not going to make this a very "pretty" column. I'm just going to go with "Snap 1" and start from there. I'll try to work in a little context for the sake of readability. But to make time for that I'm going to have to cut time elsewhere, so let's look at the first half.
For context... the Ravens have a big front 3 on their defensive line. Their starting players from LE to RE (Jones, Kemoeatu, Ngata) weigh 315, 345, and 340 respectively. Their backup NT Cody, who saw 24 snaps, weighs in at 341 as well. Their smallest DL is McPhee, who comes in on pass rushing downs and weighs 280. But in that base D, you're talking about huge, huge guys.
(quick side note here. Those who KILL Pioli for not taking Cody, and use the "he's starting for the best 3-4 DL in the league" argument, re-read that last paragraph. Cody is NOT their starter. He's their backup. Whoops.)
(Late side note. This got way longer than I thought it would. Don't bother to read this if you're not obsessed with the Chiefs. Because it's 2500 words about left guard)
Anyways, with context in place... onto Jeff Allen!
Snap 1- Talk about getting thrown in the deep end right off the bat. On a run left inside the LT, Allen is matched up one-on-one against Ngata. Holy crap. And you know what? He did all right. Holds Ngata up and keeps him at bay long enough for Jamaal Charles to squirt by for a 5 yard gain. Way to start off, Jeff Allen!
Snap 2- Run to the right inside the tackle, Allen's pulling. He seems to lose his feet as he pulls, but manages to get it together long enough to throw a cut block that takes the NT off his feet and out of the play. Two runs, two times doing his job.
Snap 3- Run to the outside right, Allen pulling. Doesn't really do much or have time to do much, as JC gets blown up far to the right behind the LOS.
Snap 4- Run left outside the T. Allen doesn't really get locked onto anyone and makes minimal impact.
Snap 5- Pass play. Allen's one-on-one with the NT. Gives about a yard, then stonewalls the guy, who loses his feet and falls forward. REALLY nice to see a G winning that battle one-on-one. Allen's a strong dude.
Snap 6- Run left inside the T. Allen's free and has to take on Ray freaking Lewis... and completely engulfs him, allowing JC to burst through the way only JC can. Big gain, and a GREAT block by Allen.
Snap 7- Run right inside the T. Allen's trying to pull to the right, ends up 2 yards behind the LOS as the NT holds him up with one arm. Gain of zero. Yikes. By far his worst play so far.
Snap 8- Run left inside the T. Allen's again one-on-one with Ngata, and this time doesn't control him, forcing a cutback by Shaun Draughn. To his credit, he keeps Ngata from getting to Draughn, but that's about it. Gain of two. Meh.
Snap 9- Shotgun formation. Draw play on 3rd and long (AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!). The Ravens blow it up. Allen doesn't get his hands on anyone until it's almost two late, but DOES stop the LB dead in his tracks. Given that it didn't do much good, I'm sticking with "meh."
Snap 10- Run right inside the T. Allen is free at the LOS and gets to the 2nd level. He seals Ray Lewis long enough for JC to get by for a 10 yard gain. Fun note: Ray wanted absolutely nothing to do with Allen. Instead of taking him on, he tries to stop on a dime and "club" Allen aside. No dice. Allen got taken out a second later by a couple of linemen rolling onto his legs. Fortunately for us, and America, Allen's OK. Phew.
Snap 11- Another run (I'm sensing a pattern here). JC starts right, then goes left inside the T. Allen helps Lilja shove Ngata back a couple of yards and away from the play. Gain of 8. Seriously, it is so, so sweet to see some POWER on our offensive line!
Snap 12- Quick pass to the right. Allen and Ngata give each other a shove that pushes both back, but that's about it. Allen DOES manage to sell Ngata on the play moving to the left (along with the rest of the D, which bites HARD on a play action), leaving JC with nary a defender on him. Unfortunately, a crap throw by Cassel causes JC to have to stop, turn, and fall for a 4 yard gain rather than a 20 yard gain if he'd been hit in stride... Man, Cassel... I'm sorry, what were we talking about?
Snap 13- Run left inside the T. AGAIN Allen is one-on-one with Ngata. The two shove back and forth, and Cyrus Gray moves past them for a gain of 4 (would've been way more had Albert been able to lock down the LB). Seriously, he's not doing half bad against Ngata.
Snap 14- The Cyrus Gray fumbled pitch. This play was DOOMED from the start. Gray clearly fumbles because his eyes were on the 3 defenders coming at him. Allen's trying to pull left, but 91 on BAL's defense has blown into the backfield and in his way (Moeaki messed that up). Allen didn't have much of a chance, but it would've helped if he'd gotten his hands on one of the defenders bursting through.
Snap 15- Run right inside the T. Allen takes on Ngata after Lilja engages him for a second, and holds him off as JC bursts past them for 8 yards. Nicely done.
Snap 16- Run left inside the T. Allen vs. Ngata. Ngata keeps him at arms' length, but Allen delivers a shove that pushes (PUSHES!) the big man off balance just a little, giving JC time to run by for a first down. Not dominant at all, but I'll take that all day against a monster like Ngata.
Snap 17- Run right inside the T. Allen vs. Ngata. Ngata gets inside his pads and they move towards the ball together, but Allen manages to stop (STOP!) the movement. I'm not making this up. Ngata then loses his footing, and JC gets 10. Seriously, I cannot believe how toe-to-toe Allen is playing this guy.
Snap 18- Run right inside the T. Allen gets to the 2nd level and locks onto 53, keeping him out of the play. He ends up bumping Lewis and, not realizing the play is over, tries to engage him as well. Lewis, realizing the play is over, grabs the back of his head and uses his momentum to push him to the ground. I absolutely love this play for two reasons.
1) the initial block on #53 was solid, and
2) Allen just kept on playing and looking for someone to hit. I love it
Snap 19- Run left, outside of T. Allen vs. Ngata. Shoving match, no ground gained. JC goes horizontal instead of vertical and Ngata uses his quickness to get around Allen. Short gain. The vet made him look silly there, using his wiles and incredible agility.
Snap 20- Shotgun. False start Albert. Sheesh...
Snap 21- Shotgun. Pass. Allen vs. Ngata. Guess who gets absolutely nowhere? Atta BOY Jeff Allen!
Snap 22- Run left inside T. Allen doesn't really engage anyone, just pushes with the pile to the right. A very "meh" play. Gotta get your hands on someone, Allen.
Snap 23- Cassel pick (blech). Allen vs. Ngata again. Ngata gets nowhere near Cassel again.
Snap 24- Run left inside T. Allen alone against the NT. Gets position to the NT's left and holds him there as the RB runs by for a nice gain. Jeff Allen has power, folks.
Snap 25- Counter play, run left inside T. Allen ends up with NT alone, and stops him dead to let the JC get by for a nice gain.
Snap 26- Run left inside T. Allen pulls to left, and along with the rest of the line just SHOVES the Ravens defense back about 5 yards. This play was incredible by every single OL. I love the fact that we're out-muscling the biggest DL in football.
Snap 27- Pass pro. Allen's the free OL, and he helps the guys next to him one at a time. Cassel has forever, then tucks and runs to the left for a pretty big gain.
Snap 28- Run left inside T. Allen doesn't get on anyone, but the run goes for 9 anyways. Did you guys know that Jamaal Charles is good?
Snap 29- Run right inside T. Allen helps Lilja push the Raven defender back, but that's about it. Nice push from that side of the line, though.
Snap 30- Run right inside T. Allen gets to the 2nd level and hits #53, but the blockers behind don't hold their guys up. Short gain. If Asamoah holds his guy down another second that's a much bigger gain.
Snap 31- Run left outside T. Allen and Albert work together and absolutely wall off 2 Baltimore defenders, allowing for a nice gain for a first down. Really, really well blocked.
Snap 32- QB sneak. It happens so fast Allen hasn't even fired forward much when it's over. Speed up, rook!
Snap 33- False start, Maneri. Of course that happens, we're in the red zone.
Snap 34- Allen's worst play so far by a long shot. Run left, I have no idea where to because Allen gets fails to control his guy (McPhee), who gets great penetration to dump JC for a loss. A weakness comes through here. Allen doesn't handle "quick" nearly as well as he handles "strong."
Snap 35- Run left inside tackle. Allen gets to 2nd level, but it doesn't matter as Albert and Moeaki get owned.
Snap 36- Shotgun, draw play to left (ugh). Allen vs. Ngata. A fine job keeping him occupied while the runner gets away.
Snap 37- Run left inside tackle. Allen is free but can't find anyone to block in front of him. Draughn, instead of following Allen, cuts back to the right and is hit within 3 yards. Should've trusted your blocking, Draughn!
Snap 38- Exact same play, this time JC DOESN'T cut back the way Draughn did... but the blocking isn't as good. Albert, Allen, and Moeaki all fail to get much push and it's a gain of 2.
Snap 39- Shotgun draw to right, inside the tackle. Allen pulls right and has a COLLISION with Ray Lewis. Draughn runs by the two and gets a first down. A REALLY nice stick that stopped a running Ray Lewis dead in his tracks.
Snap 40- Shotgun draw to left, inside the tackle. This play works for a big gain in large part because Allen, again alone against Ngata, holds his ground and holds him up.
Snap 41- An actual pass out of the shotgun! Allen gets beat pretty quickly and gets Cassel hurried. Again, a more "finesse" move beats him.
Snap 42- Spiked ball
Snap 43- Shotgun. Pass. Again, Allen is alone against Ngata. And again, he keeps him far away from Cassel.
First of all, let me say off the bat that PFF gave Allen a negative grade this game. Watching the first half, I have absolutely no idea why. He must have STUNK the second half in order to earn a negative grade. Because the guy I watched took on the best big man in the game multiple times and played him to a draw. Pass pro, running game... it didn't matter. Allen matched Ngata shot for shot. It was glorious.
If I were to give an evaluation of Allen based on these snaps, I'd say three things really stood out
1) Allen is a powerful, powerful player. He holds his ground against bull rushes and does not get pushed back often. He packs a punch moving forward too. Strong arms, strong legs. Just a strong guy overall. In my opinion, he's a big part of why our line looked worlds different against this Ravens DL than it did a couple years ago.
2) Allen moves really well in space for a dude his size, but he doesn't seem to have great awareness as to how to get on a defender right away. He goes to his spot and looks for people there to block. He's gotta learn to adjust when defenders don't go right in front of him on the 2nd level.
3) The biggest weakness I saw in Allen was against speed/finesse moves. Like any rook, he's susceptible to getting beat for being overly aggressive. And he really does seem to struggle with speedy players. He played better against Ngata than he did against McPhee (who is 280 pounds). Hopefully, this is something he can work on and get better at. Otherwise smaller, quicker DTs are going to give us fits.
Overall, I'm not sorry at all for my MOAR JEFF ALLEN obsession. This dude is the strongest offensive lineman we have in my opinion, and he can MOVE for a big dude. If he gets better at even a normal pace for a rookie OG, we've got a monster here.
Now if you'll excuse me, my fingers are killing me. Time to move onto my next mission and the next player we need to get on the field more. My mission to call for the guys I think are our most talented players will never end, so with that in mind...
MOAR CYRUS GRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!