Key matchup: DE Jared Allen vs. OLT Russell Okung

Dan Arkush
Vikings DE Allen to have shoulder surgery

In today’s “Key Matchup,” PFW’s Dan Arkush focuses on Vikings DRE Jared Allen vs. Seahawks OLT Russell Okung in the Vikings-Seahawks game Sunday in Seattle.

Vikings DRE Jared Allen vs. Seahawks OLT Russell Okung

After stopping Detroit’s normally strong pass rush cold in Week Eight (zero sacks), a Seattle offensive line that has allowed more than two sacks in only one game this season will be trying to keep up the good work against a Minnesota pass rush spearheaded by Allen, arguably the league’s most prodigious pass rusher.

Okung, a former first-round draft pick with great natural tools, will be primarily entrusted with handling Allen, who has at least one sack in each of the last six games, including the Vikings’ only sack in their Week Eight loss to the Buccaneers.

Allen currently is tied for fifth with three other players in the NFC with seven sacks. He had the Vikings’ only sack in the last game vs. Tampa Bay and has at least one sack in each of the last six games. Best-known for his nonstop motor, Allen registered a league-high 22 sacks last season, going sackless in just 3-of-16 games and recording multiple sacks in six of those games. 

The 30-year-old Allen had registered double-digit sacks and at least three fumbles forced in six of his eight seasons entering 2012. What he lacks in pass-rush versatility, he makes up for in will and determination. Some of his big plays come in garbage time, but he never comes off the field, fights through tandem blocking and makes explosive plays in the backfield.

Allen is also the heartbeat of the Vikings’ defense, often letting his emotions spill over onto the sideline — for better or worse.

Okung is also known for being a passionate player. In seven starts this season (he missed Week Two with a knee injury), he is primarily responsible for making the left side RB Marshawn Lynch’s preferred direction in which to run so far this season. Okung's biggest problem has been his inability to stay healthy. His season ended prematurely last season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle on a cheap shot by Eagles DE Trent Cole in Week 13.

Okung has tremendous natural strength, which was on display a few weeks back when he actually “pancaked” Niners behemoth Justin Smith on one play, which is pretty hard to do. Few left tackles in the league earn higher marks on the eyeball test than Okung, who has a massive, well-proportioned upper body, big hands and tree trunks for arms. He can redirect and shift his weight quickly, and he’s an explosive knee-bender who takes good angles to the second level.

All that said, Okung continues to experience growing pains in his third season. As one daily team observer put it, "He'll whiff on one play and be dominating the next.”