The introduction of Jared Allen as the new co-star of the Vikings comes with a challenge for both Brad Childress and Tim Brewster, Minnesota's highest-profile football coaches.
Childress was a rookie coach in 2006, turned a 9-7 team into 6-10 and managed to convince his boss, Zygi Wilf, that it was a rebuilding year. The Vikings were an improved 8-8 last season, missing the playoffs but unveiling a rookie who has a chance to be a running back for the ages in Adrian Peterson.
On Wednesday, they added Allen, the defensive end from Kansas City. He's as dynamic on his side of the ball as is Peterson, and comes at the media and the public with an outward energy and an enthusiasm for public speaking that Minnesotans haven't seen from a Viking since ... who?
Maybe Joe Kapp.
Allen was the NFL's leading sacker in 2007 with 15 1/2 for the woeful Chiefs. He's now going to be part of football's best front four -- Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams and who cares, from right to left.
"Like I said, for me selfishly, those two D-tackles ... I think the biggest problem we're going to have is who is going to hit the quarterback first,'' the new defensive star said during his introductory news conference.
And this was just the start of Allen's verbiage. Wait until he gets in front of an audience at Saturday's draft party at Winter Park. Wait until his buddy Jay Glazer of Fox Sports shows up in Mankato, and Allen starts making guarantees of sacks and Super Bowls.
Minnesotans are going to eat this guy up, unless some late night in August he's trying to make curfew in training camp and finds himself driving 100 miles per hour through the quiet streets of St. Peter.
That was Koren Robinson in 2006, of course. No matter how much sincerity he rolled out about beating his chemical dependency problem, there was something in the delivery that made you skeptical.
On Wednesday, Allen's insistence that he has changed his life was so in-your-face that even the usual cynics in the media gathering of 50-60 were taken in. If it turns out he's another NFL con man waiting to drive drunk again, start your e-mails to email@example.com with, "What d'ya think now, sap?''
Presuming that both Allen and Peterson are there on the opening Monday night in Green Bay, and for most of the 15 games to follow, we can be sure of this:
Reaching the playoffs doesn't figure to be enough to save Childress' job. He's going to have to win a postseason game -- make the Vikings a significant factor in the Super Bowl tournament -- to pass Zygi's muster for another season.
Of course, that's not what Wilf will be saying in the months ahead, but an owner doesn't come up with $31 million to sign the game's best pass rusher and then give benediction to another mediocre season.
More pressure on the head coach?
"It's not pressure to add a good football player,'' Childress said. "I always feel good to add good football players.''
What the Vikings are adding is a tremendous football player. Childress will be entering his third season with the NFL's best pass rusher to go with the game's best ground rusher.
If the Vikings don't win big with the combination of an Allen-led defense and a Peterson-led offense, there will be another media gathering at Winter Park next January and we'll be saying, "You know that Chilly ... he wasn't a bad guy.''
As for Brewster, he has been able to create attention for the Gophers with his over-the-top rhetoric. On Wednesday, the coach was reminded that in the Twin Cities, there are the Vikings and then everyone else.
Brewster was hoping to make a media event out of introducing new uniforms. By all accounts, the media gathering was meager, particularly in comparison to the reporters and cameras assembled for Allen's introduction.
And when Allen started answering questions, Brewster immediately became the second-smoothest talker on the local football scene.
"And Jared isn't selling anything,'' Childress said. "That's just him.''
Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org