Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen most definitely goes his own way, even as a married and mullet-less family man. In 2011, Allen put up the best season of his eight-year career, doubling his sack total of the year before with 22.0 total, forcing four fumbles, and even grabbing one interception. It was a rare bright spot for a Vikings team in serious rebuilding mode.
Allen spent the offseason unsatisfied and haunted by the sacks he didn't get. He knew that he was just half a sack away from tying the single-season record Michael Strahan got in 2001, and given his hit and hurry totals, he came into 2012 believing that the record was attainable. Allen skipped voluntary OTAs, preferring to train with his own group of people in Arizona, and the Vikings didn't have a problem with that when he returned on Tuesday for mandatory minicamps.
"When he came by my office yesterday afternoon, I gave him a big hug," Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier told the media on Thursday. "It was the first time I've seen him in a while. [OTAs] are voluntary sessions. You can't get around that. Guys have the option to attend them or not, but the fact that he is here is a positive."
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Allen said. "Coach [Leslie Frazier] understood why. I wanted to keep my routine through the offseason. I have a great team in Arizona. Everything was focused and in the right direction."
And to that end, Allen is thinking about passing even his great 2011 season. He's wondered for a while -- would a 25-sack season be possible?
"Before you're really close, you're not sure if it's obtainable," Allen said of the possible mark on Tuesday. "You think it is, because you think, 'If someone did it, I can do it.' But being right there, and actually leaving some stuff on the field -- they took the one away in Green Bay; they made that a team sack -- and there were a couple where the [quarterbacks] were in the arms, and I didn't get it. It was that close. At the end of the year, I was kinda bummed out, being one or two away [from the record]. But when I started working out, it's just motivation. So, you go back and watch film, and try to correct technique. It's always a personal goal, and if I'm fortunate and blessed enough to break it one day, I'm gonna try to break it again."
Allen was then asked if two sacks per games would be possible for one player. "As much as they throw it, you would think." he said. "I don't know if two a game is possible, but I think 25 is possible. You look at some of the athletes out there, the DeMarcus Wares and the matchups he creates. I think it's possible. Then again, nobody's ever had two 20-sack seasons in the row in the history of the NFL, so someone's gotta do that first."
On Wednesday, Allen was asked about his rank of 13th in the 2012 Top 100 Players show -- it was an uptick of 67 spots from his ranking of 80th in 2011. As you might expect, Allen still wasn't quite satisfied. "I guess some people were happy just to be in the top 100; I won't be happy until I get to the top 10, top one. But I guess I'm going to have to learn how to throw a ball to get there."
Ah, yes. A man who hates quarterbacks would certainly bring up the pro-quarterback bias. Allen also reiterated his high goals for 2012. "I mentioned that as I think that is what will be hit some day … It's doable," he said. "It's one of those things where I didn't think 15 was possible until I finally got to 15. And then getting past 20, you don't really think it's possible. But once you get it into your mindset that you can do it, it drives you."
Quarterbacks of the world, beware. Jared Allen is coming for you again.