In a season that's rapidly turning into a "how did we get here" moment for Chiefs fans everywhere, it's important we occasionally stop and smell the few roses that exist. Especially when those roses are in the form of a 300-plus pound behemoth who looks like he stepped out of a comic strip and threw on a uniform.
Yep, it's time we talked about Allen Bailey.
Bailey has flown under the radar somewhat this season, taking a backseat to the catastrophe that is the offense. But that just makes sense when you think about it. Last year, when Bailey's play substantially improved from what we'd previously seen, few people noticed. When John Dorsey gave Bailey a contract extension worth four years and $25 million (if every penny is paid out), it was received rather quietly.
At the time of the contract a few eyebrows were raised. Were the Chiefs really going to hand over $15 million in guaranteed money to a guy who had been mostly disappointing his first several years in the league? A guy who was mostly known for his freakish build and "potential"? We noted his improvement, but the general theme was "well, Bailey will have to continue to improve to be worth that contract."
Not only has Bailey more than lived up to that (relatively modest for a defensive lineman) contract, he's wildly surpassed it. Jaye Howard has been receiving a lot of hype, and deservedly so. But Bailey has (quietly, of course) played really, really solid football this season.
First, there are the stats. Did you know Allen Bailey (4.5) currently has more sacks than Justin Houston (4.0)? Or that he's tied for sixth in the league in that stat? I sure didn't. But it's the truth. At 4.5 sacks, Bailey is on pace (if you believe in "projecting" numbers) for 12 sacks this season. That's a MONSTER number for a 3-4 defensive end.
And it doesn't end there. Per PFF (whose numbers aren't gospel but are generally in line with what I chart), Bailey also has two QB hits and seven QB hurries. He's also forced a pair of fumbles and recovered one. He also leads the league in "crap I bet that hurt Adrian Peterson" moments.
Bailey is ridiculously strong. How many times have you seen Peterson stopped dead and knocked backwards like this? pic.twitter.com/m9rljwJEfh— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 21, 2015
OK, that last one isn't a real stat, but any excuse to share that GIF is good enough for me. While certain aspects of the defense have struggled, Bailey has been rock solid. His play is a major reason the run defense has looked much improved this year, and he's provided some nice "bonus" pass rushing.
Against the Vikings, Bailey's impact was noticeable. On multiple plays he stonewalled blockers and gave Peterson nowhere to run. He also did a good job crushing the pocket on more than one occasion. Going back and watching the tape, he (along with Jaye Howard and Mike DeVito) was dominating up front, keeping the Chiefs in the game despite a floundering offense.
Bailey set the tone quite early in the game. On the Vikings first drive they were able to get down the field on a big passing play. They were knocking on the door on first and 10 from the Chiefs' nine-yard-line and things were looking ... dire. The Vikings gave the ball to Adrian Peterson, undoubtedly looking to ram the ball down the defense's throat and establish dominance.
It did not go as planned.
Bailey is too strong (and low) for the RT. Pushes him back (good hand placement), then whips All Day to the ground. pic.twitter.com/cogfxMnivH— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 21, 2015
This is a great play by Bailey. He gets low, gets his hands inside the pads of the offensive lineman, and just drives him back with grown man, country boy strength. And not satisfied to simply force Peterson to cut outside, Bailey then grabs on to one of the most violent runners in football and CHUCKS him to the ground. Seriously, look at that tackle. It's like watching an older brother forget himself and play a little too rough with his kid brother for just a second. No wonder Peterson was talking about how strong Bailey is after the game.
The very next play Bailey overpowered the RG with a similar method (basically, getting lowish and inside the OL's pads and then being more of a man than his opponent) and sacked Teddy Bridgewater (with an assist from Houston, whose outside rush appears to scare Teddy into stepping up into a pocket that didn't actually exist).
What is a lineman supposed to do about this?
If you let Allen Bailey get into your pads, you're going to lose. Grown man strength, he's got. Push you, he will. pic.twitter.com/Cqh8qY6NBT— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 19, 2015
There's a lot of nuance to football. A great deal of planning and energy go into fooling the other team to gain an edge. However, at the end of the day there's no substitute for "our guy is a lot stronger than your guy, so we win." Allen Bailey creates that situation. At this point he's clearly well over 300 pounds and is just too dang strong for a normal offensive lineman to handle. Make a mistake with your base / leverage and you're toast. He'll make you look like you're wearing skates with rockets on them pointed backward.
Remember the very next play of that drive? The Ron Parker pick? Guess who was able to get in Bridgewater's face as he threw despite initially drawing a double team?
I don't know if he was close enough to sacking him to chalk that up as a "pressure," but he absolutely affected Bridgewater's footwork and decision.
To sum up, the Vikings were marching down the field on their first drive until Allen Bailey went full "DJ vs. the Raiders" and made three straight plays to help stop the drive. And that was just in the first few minutes of the first quarter.
It continued like that throughout the game. The Vikings' second drive, Bailey easily shed a TE (seriously, Norv? A tight end on Bailey?) and met Peterson in the backfield.
Bailey got a single arm around Peterson and was able to drag him to the ground. One thing about Allen Bailey; if he gets an arm around you, you're tackled 99.9 percent of the time. That's not the case with all defensive linemen, but then, not all defensive linemen have arms like tree trunks.
If you go back and re-watch the game against Minnesota, Bailey stood out on multiple plays beyond what I've shown here. Even on plays where he didn't make a tackle, he made a difference by being absolutely immovable. The Vikings had no answer for him the vast majority of the snaps he was in.
If you look at Bailey's contract, you can see that his cap hit this year is a mere $3.2M. That will rise up to $5.2M, $6.5M, then an even $M8 over the course of the next few seasons if he plays out the contract exactly as written.
That's a very, very, very good rate to pay a defensive lineman playing at the level Bailey is currently playing at. The $8 million is the only number that even approaches what I wouldn't be willing to pay NOW, and that number won't arrive until 2018, when the cap will be significantly higher than it is now.
Dorsey locking up Bailey during last season is looking more and more like a fantastic move. He's playing at a bargain price this year and next and will never be unreasonably priced on the deal as it is. That's what happens when you can get deals done prior to players hitting free agency. Here's hoping Dorsey learned that lesson and Jaye Howard is as open to negotiating an extension as Bailey is.
The defensive line COULD be a gigantic strength of the team for years to come if things play out right. And Bailey will be a huge part of it. Because everything Bailey does is huge. Crap, he makes "just standing there hanging out" huge.
Glad he's on our side.