Missing an entire season takes a toll on an athlete physically and mentally. The road to recovery is one that is trying at every turn, demanding all of one’s attention. Ricardo Allen took the offseason to not only rehabilitate his Achilles but also further develop his knowledge of the game. He was committed to better understanding offensive schemes, studying film of a handful of the most brilliant offensive minds to coach in the NFL.
Allen started with former Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan then moved to the late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh. Walsh is widely regarded as one of the greatest offensive minds ever. Coaches like Andy Reid and Mike Holmgren are among the vast Walsh coaching tree. Allen even asked to partake in the quarterback film sessions during the 2018 season. Matt Ryan stated that it was the first time a defensive player had requested to study film with him.
“I was impressed by him wanting to do that,” Ryan said. “I think he feels like that can add to him being a better player. If that’s the case, I feel like that’s awesome.”
Allen is able to transfer his knowledge to the defensive meeting rooms. Being able to diagnose what the offense is doing on film and the field is invaluable to an inexperienced defensive unit. He’s long been called the quarterback at the back-end of the defense since Dan Quinn became head coach, allowing him to make sure his teammates are always in the right position, preventing big plays and leading to turnovers.
The veteran safety proved once again why that is in the Falcons’ win over the Eagles Sunday night. Not only did the Falcons safety assist in an impressive defensive outing, holding Philadelphia under 50 yards rushing on 21 attempts, but he also made what could be considered the defensive play of the game. With 13 seconds left in the first half on Atlanta’s 13-yard line, Allen keyed in on Nelson Agholor pre-snap. Thus, prompting him to signal rookie Kendall Sheffield to play Agholor’s outside shoulder. This invites the receiver to drift to the inside away from the nickel and towards the safety, i.e., Ricardo Allen.
As expected, Agholor drifted inside, and Carson Wentz threw a ball that only his guy could go up and get. The Philadelphia receiver elevated and initially had a touchdown if he had come down with the ball, which would have tied the game going into halftime. Insert Ricardo Allen’s vicious hit, jarring the ball loose and saving a touchdown.
Below is Allen signaling Sheffield to play Agholor’s outside,
Much talk about play where Ricardo Allen figured what the Eagles would do and let rook Kendall Sheffield know. “I told him to push [the WR] to me. I knew [Wentz] saw me jump the seam to the TE earlier. So I knew if I jumped earlier and then went back, he was going to come.’’ pic.twitter.com/hqof0d3pqa
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 18, 2019
Ricardo Allen has drastically improved his understanding of offensive formations and concepts over the years. Doug Pederson is an Andy Reid disciple, studying Reid’s habits has clearly helped in his preparation and performances. He’s come a long way since being left off the 53-man roster as a rookie, and a tireless work ethic both on the field and in the film room has allowed him to become an even better player than the one that tore his Achilles in week three of last year.