Since entering the NFL in 2004, defensive end Jared Allen has been one of the most prolific pass rushers in the league. Now entering his 11th season of his career, Allen is set to continue that high-quality production with his new team, the Chicago Bears. Many are saying that the five-time Pro Bowler is on the decline, and that he won’t continue his string of consecutive double-digit sack seasons (which is seven), but I beg to differ.
Recently, Allen was voted as the league’s 68th best player (the seventh-ranked defensive end) on The Top 100 Players of 2014. Obviously, his peers still think highly of him and of his ability to get to the quarterback, and everyone else should feel the same way regarding this upcoming season.
Looking at the 2014 schedule for the Bears, many of their opponents struggled in pass protection last year. Of Chicago’s 16 regular-season games, 10 of them will be against teams that ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed, and 12 of the teams surrendered an average of at least 2.5 sacks per game in 2013.
Furthermore, the fact that Allen stayed in the NFC North, a division that he is highly familiar with, gives him a great chance to have a successful campaign. The only challenge might be the Detroit Lions, who only allowed 23 sacks all of last season (second-best in the NFL).
What will give Allen an even better chance of having a productive season is the play of Chicago’s defensive tackles. Currently, I think Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea are the best bet as the starters in the interior. However, if rookie defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton step up to the plate quickly, along with the rotation of Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije, that will only make things even easier for Allen.
Not only do I think Allen will continue his dominant play on the defensive line, but I also feel that his presence will dramatically improve a Bears pass rush that was ranked dead last in sacks in 2013.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.