When the news broke that the Texans and QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller had both agreed on four-year deals, it was one of the most interesting work days I've ever experienced. It was incredible to follow throughout the day, as there was a constant buzz throughout the building. As the Osweiler/Miller news percolated, a steady stream of people kept popping into my office to ask my thoughts on the two signings.
Check out a collection of action photos from G Jeff Allen's NFL career.
There had been rumors about those two signings for a few days, but when the decision was made public, everyone kept asking my opinion. When I was finally able to break free to head to another meeting, someone asked me again what I thought about the three signings.
"THREE?!? What the heck else did we do?" I asked.
"A guy named Jeff Allen."
"Wait...we signed Jeff Allen? That's awesome!" I was more excited about Allen's signing than anything else that happened on Wednesday.
Allen, a second round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012, started 36 games in his career, slowed only due to injuries suffered in 2014 and early in 2015. In fact, he didn't play against the Texans in the opener in 2015, but started the last half of the season, including in the Chiefs' Wild Card win over the Texans.
Having studied him coming out of Illinois four years ago, I remembered liking his game, his feisty attitude and heavy hands. But, he appeared to be on the fast track to guard and eventually did move inside, for the most part, once he arrived in Kansas City. He played some tackle in Kansas City in a pinch and he does have that versatility. But, he's a guard. Better put, he's best served to play guard going forward.
One of the great things about the Chiefs offense was that the run game was as diverse as any in the league. As such, Allen was asked to do a little of everything in that offense and that's what he'll be asked to do here in Houston. What makes him appealing is that he has the power to flourish in a gap/power scheme, as much as he has the ability to zone off defensive linemen/linebackers on zone runs.
As I watched numerous games of Allen in action, I was impressed by his ability to re-anchor against stab/long arm pass rush moves. His ability to transition on combination blocks was excellent, as he was able to recognize run blitzes fairly well. In totality, though, his power and agility help make him a valued component in the zone running game.
Here's a great example of that against the Tennessee Titans. The Chiefs put 11 personnel (1 RB and 1 TE) on the field and Allen was aligned at left guard on the weak side.
Just prior to the play, QB Alex Smith checked to a weak side stretch play, running to Allen's side. As the ball was about to be snapped, Titans LB Zack Brown walked up in the B gap to Allen's outside as the Titans called a run blitz to stop a run that way.
Brown's speed was a major concern against zone plays, but on the snap, Allen took his zone steps, widening to get to the outside edge of Brown. With his quick feet and strength, Allen pinned Brown to the inside, negating that speed, as Smith handed the ball to Jamaal Charles.
Allen kept running his feet upfield, pinning Brown to the inside. But, Allen's awareness was key at this point. DT Antonio Johnson took off running for the sideline once he read the play and the Chiefs center really had no shot at blocking him.
As held Brown to the inside, Allen caught Johnson before he could involve himself in run pursuit. He pinned him to the inside as well. So, in about five steps, Allen had turned Brown AND Johnson back to the inside on his own, eliminating their inside-out pursuit. That's really impressive, folks.
Charles had free run up the sideline with no inside-out pursuit after him.
Because Allen eliminated it.
It was a simple zone play, but Allen's technique was flawless, his feet were quick and his power to control two Titans defenders was impressive. That run was all about him.
There are plenty more of those type plays over the number of games/plays that I watched throughout Allen's four years in Kansas City. Even after he had an issue with his MCL early in the 2015 season, he still flashed the same skills, although he was playing on less than 100% wheels.
He might have been a bit overshadowed on a frenetic, free agent frenzied afternoon, but more work like this and he'll stand out in due time.