December 08, 2011
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen may be suffering through a 2-10 season so far, but he's not letting it affect his dynamic play … or his sense of humor. The man who recently threatened to punch former teammate Ray Edwards "square in the weiner" during a game was very much in form through this last week as the Vikings prepared to take on the Detroit Lions.
After telling the NFL Network on Wednesday that it "sucked" to lose to a running quarterback as the Vikings did to Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos last Sunday, Allen saved some invective for the city in which he'll be playing his next game.
"I don't like going to Detroit," Allen told MLive.com. "I'll be honest. It's gloomy, it sucks. Everything is brown, and then there is snow on the ground. There's like brownstones everywhere, and I'm like, 'Awesome.' I don't know, I couldn't do it. If I had to live in Detroit, I think I'd just drown myself in the river that was across the way."
More seriously, Allen was asked by the Detroit media on Wednesday how he was dealing with his own stellar season — he ranks second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks, just behind Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware's 15 — in the wake of an obvious rebuilding year for his team. It's got to be a blow for a guy who was a play or two away from a Super Bowl just a couple years ago.
"Yeah, you know, probably if we were having a better [season], probably be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. But you know what? There's a reason for it. Something good will come out of it, [and] we'll be a better team in the future for it."
That's the key to Allen's success. No matter how badly things may be going in an overall sense, Allen has a certain determination, and a very unique world view, that allows him to transcend his surroundings. After a slightly disappointing campaign in 2010 — he had 11 sacks but appeared to be overmatched at times — he's back to his old self. This season, Allen has harassed quarterbacks as consistently as any time in his career. However, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz wanted to make it clear that Allen is about more than just sacks.
"He tips a lot of balls," Schwartz said on Wednesday. "Makes plays on screens and reverses and things like that. Again, that is one of those situations [where if] you pay too much attention to one player, they have other ones. Kevin Williams is an outstanding player. [Brian] Robison [has done] a really nice job this year filling in on the other side. That is basically about 10 sacks coming from them on the opposite side other than Jared Allen. Kevin Williams is a guy that knocks down a lot of passes. We have seen that in the past against us. It is an outstanding front four. It has gone a little bit unrecognized, I guess. It is an outstanding front seven. [Chad] Greenway plays very well. The Henderson [E.J. and Eric] brothers have played very consistent football for them.
"They have had some trouble in the secondary, particularly because of injury, a lot of guys coming back from injuries and losing other guys to injuries. They probably haven't been as sound as they would like to be because of the injury situation back there, but their front seven has been incredibly consistent this year."
Problems? To say the least. The Vikings' secondary was totally exposed against the Broncos, making Tebow look very much like the quarterback he isn't quite yet. And when you're facing a more traditional vertical offense like Detroit's, and a weapon like receiver Calvin Johnson, things can become more problematic. Opposing teams have been gunning for Johnson all year, but it doesn't seem to make much difference.
It's a strategy that Allen agrees with. "I would put it all towards him personally, but I'm not the defensive coordinator. I would say if a guy's national nickname is Megatron, unless you've got Optimus Prime on your team … let's double him up."
Allen was also asked about the recent extracurricular activities of Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who's fallen on the wrong side of the league view in a way that Allen, for all his bluster, has managed to avoid. Does he think that Suh is a dirty player?
"I don't think anybody's … I mean, I guess that was dirty, so I guess… I wouldn't call someone a dirty player. I mean, how do you define a dirty player? You got to get someone playing hard, doing whatever it takes to try to win now. Kicking someone after the play — probably not — but, I don't really — it is what it is.
"The NFL's like a fraternity, you know what I mean; as much as we battle against each other, there's probably players in the league I don't like and they probably don't like me, but there's a mutual respect out there, you know, and I think that's where the line [is drawn]. You can whoop somebody as much as you want during the whistles and within the rules. Guys are going to get into that kind of stuff, but I mean, stomping on someone is just crossing the line. You know, emotions got the best of him. You've just got to learn that that's not acceptable and move on, because that takes away from his good play."
So, where does Jared Allen's "good play" come from? What motivates Allen when his season is already way past done from a competitive perspective? What keeps that fire burning? It's simple — he just wants to make everybody happy. Or not.
"Obviously [we] aren't playing in the playoffs," Allen said. "I always tell people misery loves company and it's pretty miserable around here. So, I'm trying to drag as many folks into it as I can."
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