One of the Chicago Bears’ players to watch this summer is Jared Allen. What can Bears fans expect from the free agent prize in 2014?
Allen’s most productive season came in 2011 with the Minnesota Vikings when he started all 16 games and compiled some pretty spectacular statistics. That year, he had a remarkable 22 sacks as well as 66 total tackles, three pass deflections, an interception and four forced fumbles. He also helped the Vikings’ 11th-ranked run defense, giving up just 107 yards per game.
While seeing stats like that out of Allen in a Bears jersey is unlikely, he can be as equally important to the Bears’ defense. His fellow defensive lineman this season will be more productive and helpful than those in his 2011 season with the Vikings. Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea and rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton should be great cohorts, and the Bears’ defensive line will be one of the deepest in the league.
Allen has found a way to stay healthy throughout his career, something Bears defensive linemen had trouble with last year. He played in all 16 games each of his six seasons in Minnesota, and two of his four with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The defensive end had 11.5 sacks last year on the second-worst defense in the NFL. The Bears were ranked one spot ahead of the Vikings, but have made plenty of additions and regained health in players like Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and D.J. Williams. Allen has regained health as well. He will be a over a year off of shoulder surgery when the season begins, and I fully believe and expect that he will average more than a sack per game.
In his introductory press conference, Allen expressed confidence in that Bears’ defense returning to form, and that should give fans confidence as well. The front seven is going to be much improved from last season, and will once again earn the nickname Monsters of the Midway after a season being the Mice of the Midway.
Chicago tied the Jacksonville Jaguars with a NFL-low 31 sacks last season, and when they weren’t getting to the quarterback, they weren’t doing much to stop the run, either. The Bears gave up 2,583 yards rushing on 5.3 yards per carry, numbers that would make any fan base cringe.
Allen will be rejuvenated in Chicago. His enthusiasm seems like it’s through the roof, and he’s got a non-stop motor. While 22 sacks may not happen, a deep playoff run might and Allen will be a big part of it.
Andrew Pappas is a Chicago Bears writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewPappas24