During a conference call with reporters last week, tight end Dwayne Allen certainly sounded like a perfect match for the Patriots.
"One thing that I’ve caught on to early," Allen said, "is coach [Bill] Belichick’s saying of, ‘The more you can do.’ I’m just about winning. I want to win and I understand that the more skills I can provide the offense, then hopefully the more mismatches that can be created for myself and other players.
"That’s what I’m about. I’m excited to be utilized as a football player again and not be confined to any box, but just to be a football player, a tight end."
His comments seemed to indicate that there was something about his usage in Indy that he wasn't all too fond of.
Maybe it was the fact that he went from being used in almost 80 percent of his team's offensive snaps as a rookie in 2012 to being used in about 60 percent of snaps from 2014-16 after suffering a season-ending hip injury early in his second season. Maybe it was the fact that he never averaged more than four targets in a game in the last three years. Maybe he wanted to block more.
As a member of the Colts, the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder was lauded both by Belichick and Matt Patricia for his abilities as a blocker and a receiver. Now with the Patriots, he'll have a chance to start fresh in New England with a coaching staff that will jump at the chance to use him in a variety of situations.
After watching Allen's film from 2016, here are some of the ways in which the Patriots may see him chipping in...
Allen's versatility as a blocker and a receiver could make him an especially valuable weapon when things get a little more cramped near opposing goal lines. He can move people off the line of scrimmage (we'll get to that later), or he can box out defenders to create his own openings as a receiver.
With the Colts, Allen seemed to consistently put some doubt in the heads of opponents who weren't sure whether they should treat him as a legitimate receiving threat or an extra tackle. Those who left him alone (the Jets, Lions and Bears were all culprits last season) paid the price.
Against the Jets, a three-touchdown game for Allen, his first score came on Indy's first drive. During that series, Allen blocked both Mohammed Wilkerson (in the running game) and David Harris (in pass protection) one-on-one at different points. Allen also served as a lead-blocker on an end-around and looked to tangle with a linebacker or safety on the play immediately before his score.
When the Colts ran a little throwback screen -- with Allen acting like a blocker at the line of scrimmage before releasing over the middle -- the Jets let him slip right through their coverage.
Though Allen won't be one of New England's top one or two receiving threats, if the Patriots can lull opposing defenses to sleep when it comes to his abilities as a receiver -- as seemed to happen at MetLife last season -- they'll take full advantage.
INTERMEDIATE PASSING GAME
Allen probably won't be found outside the numbers all that often the way Rob Gronkowski can be, but he's an effective pass-catcher when used in-line or out of the slot.
Many of his catches last season came while working the middle of the field against linebackers. Angle routes, seam routes and over routes all had varying degrees of success. Even when he didn't have the quickness advantage on a defender, Allen used his body and a dependable set of hands to finish off plays when the separation was minimal.
Against Pittsburgh's Lawrence Timmons, Allen had his way by simply running crisp, clean routes. Timmons signed with the Dolphins last week and is scheduled to see the Patriots twice after seeing them twice in 2016.
DOWN-THE-FIELD PASSING GAME
Allen may not be considered a regular big-play threat, but he showed last season that he has enough speed and athleticism to get down the field and pick up sizeable gains.
In Week 17 against the Jaguars, he was left alone as he faked a corner route and bent back toward the middle of the field. Andrew Luck's throw was high, but Allen jumped up, secured the football, and held on as he hit the ground for a 15-yard touchdown.
Against the Jets in Week 13, Allen moved down the seam with rookie linebacker Darron Lee (4.47-second 40-yard dash at the combine last year) all over him. When Luck spotted the one-on-one coverage, he didn't hesitate to rip one to his big tight end. Again, Allen showed his athleticism by leaving his feet, turning to his back shoulder, and hauling in the pass with Lee in his face.
Allen won't be challenging Brandin Cooks or Chris Hogan as the resident Fastest Man in the Building, but he has the ability to make explosive plays in the right situations.
Allen's blocking ability over the course of the last two seasons may not have been what it was earlier in his career. As a rookie, he was the NFL's top-graded blocking tight end, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2014, after an injury-shortened 2013, he finished as the No. 9-graded blocker. Since then he hasn't cracked the top-50, but has still shown he has the ability to make impact blocks.
Against the Broncos in Week 2, he cracked down on outside linebacker Shane Ray to give running back Robert Turbin an opening for his five-yard touchdown. Against the Packers in Week 9, he cleared a lane for Frank Gore by sealing off linebacker Nick Perry one-on-one on the left edge.
It's clear why the Patriots made the move for Allen before the free-agency period began. Not only is he valuable insurance for their All-Pro, often-injured No. 1 tight end. At his best, Allen offers the team exactly what it covets at the position in terms of being a true dual threat who will have value as one of the 11 in the offensive huddle no matter the situation.