The LA Rams sent shockwaves through the community in training camp when they announced that Brian Allen had reasserted himself as the starting center for the offensive line, less than two years after he had drawn the ire of many fans for disappointing performances over nine starts.
But without Bobby Evans or any other player demanding-through-play to start at right guard in place of once-center Austin Corbett, head coach Sean McVay felt he had no other choice than to give Allen a second chance. McVay called Allen a true “stand out” in training camp and felt that he was much improved from what most had remembered from 2019 and on Sunday, the 2018 fourth round pick out of Michigan State made his first start at center since going on injured reserve two Novembers ago.
How did Allen hold up against the Chicago Bears, Akiem Hicks, and one of the best front-sevens in the NFL?
It’s difficult to assess any player based on stats, but “offensive lineman stats” are another level beyond that. Grades from websites like ProFootballFocus are too ambiguous and too mysterious to rely on for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you can’t ask for answers on “Why?” and “How?” and you also don’t want to go back and watch the tape and focus just on Brian Allen for 52 snaps.
(Which for me always goes into the “How?” of PFF grades: How did one person watch all 11 offensive and all 11 defensive players for 52 plays and be able to come away with an accurate representation of each individuals play within hours of the game ending? And that’s just when the Rams have the ball.)
Another potential area for statistical analysis comes from ESPN, and that worldwide leader in something rated Allen as the fourth-best run-blocker in the NFL in Week 1.
Brian Allen had the No. 4 run-block win rate last week via ESPN Advanced Stats.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) September 14, 2021
It's one week, but there's a slight chance I might have been wrong about Allen heading into this season.
Allen also didn’t play in a preseason game this year or last year (there was no preseason last year) so this was his first live action in 22 months. Even casual onlookers could probably tell that Allen didn’t have a perfect performance, but there was also no reason to say that the center stood out in a bad way, other than one offensive holding penalty mid-way through the fourth quarter and one play where he was badly beaten by Hicks.
I’m feeling pretty good about Brian Allen’s performance in week 1, yes, he gave up 1 sack, was called for a penalty, but considering this was his first game played in about 2 years, he played quite well the rest of the game which says a lot about him. https://t.co/JI5nxfrfWs— Sam Culper (@SamCulper3) September 14, 2021
Rarely before has there ever been this much attention paid to a center, but Rams fans and media have gathered around Allen to monitor his every move, so to perform adequately with the spotlight shined directly at him, the fourth-year center likely moved the needle more in his favor after the 34-14 win against the Bears and Hicks.
How would you grade Brian Allen’s Week 1 performance?
How did Brian Allen perform in Week 1?
A (I’ll take games like this every week and be happy)
B (Good, but need to see better)
C (Mediocre and must improve ASAP)
D (Rams still have a problem at C right now)
F (Make a change!)