Scoggins: Jared Allen and his pass rush art form

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 5, 2012 - 11:20 PM

The Vikings defensive end is one of the best in the business at sacking opposing quarterbacks. As he explains, there's a method to his madness.

Jared Allen played more than 1,000 snaps last season, rushed the quarterback on roughly half of those and nearly set an NFL record with 22 sacks. That small mathematical percentage underscores Allen's contention that sacking the quarterback is not always an easy task.

"It's tough to get there," he said.

The Vikings All-Pro defensive end does it better than most, though. Since entering the league in 2004, Allen has collected 107 sacks, more than any player. He's led the NFL in sacks twice -- no player in league history has done that three times -- and he's a lock to record the second-most sacks by any player through his first nine seasons, trailing only the great Reggie White.

"This league is built on what have you done for me lately," said Allen, who has two sacks and 10 quarterback hurries this season. "No matter what you did the year before, you've got to come out and do it again or otherwise you're really no value to anybody."

Allen sat down with me recently to watch tape and dissect his preparation and approach as a pass rusher. He identified areas that serve as the foundation for his sustained success.

Effort plus technique

Opponent: Tampa Bay, Sept. 18, 2011

Bucs tackle Donald Penn lunged at Allen's feet at the snap, causing him to fall. Allen quickly got up and chased down Josh Freeman, a play that typified Allen's relentless pass rush and nonstop pursuit of the quarterback.

Allen's insight: "There are certain things I can control. I can control how good of condition I'm in and I can control wanting it more than the other guy. If I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get the quarterback, if I'm willing to do whatever it takes to beat my guy, I'm going to win more than I lose. I'm not a blazing fast guy. I'm not an overpowering guy. I'm a leverage-technique guy. That's how I rush. If my technique is better than yours, I will win the majority of the time. You've just got to know your strengths."

Quick off the ball

Opponent: Washington, Dec. 24, 2011

Allen exploded off the line with a speed rush to beat tackle Willie Smith and sack Rex Grossman. Allen excels at anticipating snap counts and getting a quick jump. He credits studying film of former Kansas City Chiefs star Derrick Thomas early in his career.

Allen's insight: "There's some trade secrets that I can't give away. There's certain things you can watch and obviously there's a play clock. You can kind of get an idea when a team wants to snap the ball. Offenses do stuff to tip their hand a little bit. You can tell if a guy is lazy in his stance, they're not about to snap the ball versus when a guy is glaring right at you."

In search of turnovers

Opponent: Carolina, Oct. 30, 2011

Allen beat a single block by tackle Jordan Gross and caused a sack-strip of rookie Cam Newton by chopping down on his arm. Allen has forced 27 fumbles since 2005 -- tied for third most in the NFL -- and always tries to knock the ball loose.

Allen's insight: "Unfortunately, I've missed two [sacks] this year by going for the football. I missed two in the Colts game. I came scot-free around the edge and I thought [Andrew Luck] was going to throw the ball and you go for the strip and he pulls it down. It's kind of the progression for how it works. Once you get to the quarterback, you're trying to make a big play."

Constant attention

Opponent: Detroit, Dec. 11, 2011

The Lions used two tight ends to double Allen off the line, but he worked past both and sacked Matthew Stafford. Double teams, running back "chip help" and extra attention are a way of life for Allen, who doesn't see many one-on-one matchups.

Allen's insight: "You just expect it. You look at formation tendencies and where a guy lines up. If a running back is in a chip position, I'm expecting to get it. You've got to use those situations to your advantage. If there's two people on me, there's somebody who has a one-on-one. Sometimes the chip will screw the offense up. You can actually use that against them, whether you spin off it or split it. When you get one-on-one opportunities, you've got to win more than you lose."

Finding a rhythm

Opponent: Detroit, Sept. 25, 2011

Allen had his way with tackle Jeff Backus and finished with three sacks, one of six times in his career that he's notched at least three sacks in one game, including a career-high 4 1/2 against Aaron Rodgers in 2009. Allen tends to get sacks in bunches when he finds a rhythm.

Allen's insight: "You get a sense of when you've got a guy. When you've got a guy, now he's guessing where you're going to go. Those are games you don't want to end. I remember in that Green Bay game, there wasn't anything I couldn't do. Sometimes you get in that mode and everything you're doing is working properly. That's why I always say you have to be so good on first and second down because if you're in third-and-short or allow a team to run the ball on you, then your rhythm is broken because you don't know what they're going to do. Third-and-4 or less, they've got the whole playbook open for you. When you get into third-and-7 and have a lead, it allows you to rush, rush, rush. That's when you get to heat them up."

Setting up counter moves

Opponent: San Francisco, Sept. 23, 2012

Allen sealed a victory with a sack-strip of Alex Smith with 1:41 left. Allen set up that sack with how he rushed on previous downs. He often uses the same move repeatedly to set up a counter move later on.

Allen's insight: "A lot of times a sack is a rhythm breaker. If I'm getting a guy into a rhythm, I might have three, four or five rushes where I'm up the field. I'm obviously trying to win. But if I don't get there, I know if I give this guy the same look, then counter off of it, you have a greater chance of winning."

Sacking the best

Opponent: Denver, Dec. 4, 2011

Allen made a diving, shoestring sack of a scrambling Tim Tebow. Allen has sacked 50 different quarterbacks in his career, including some big names -- Brady, Brees, Manning (both brothers), Favre, Vick, Rivers, Rodgers and Romo.

Allen's insight: "I've got the majority of the big ones. Probably the best is Peyton Manning. It took me five years to get him. He gets rid of the ball so fast. I haven't gotten Drew [Brees] since he was playing in San Diego. It's always fun to sack the top guys because that's why they're the top guys -- they get the ball out so fast. Sometimes those guys give you a little extra time because they might hold it a half-second longer just because they know they can fit the ball in tight places. Plus, it looks a little better on your résumé at the end of the year, right?"

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • VIKINGS WEEK 5 • Up next: 3:25 p.m. Sunday vs. Tennessee • Mall of America Field • TV: Ch. 4 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Orlando 7:00 PM
Memphis
Boston 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 6:00 PM
American Univ
Wright State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Syracuse 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Delaware State 6:00 PM
NC Central
High Point 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Howard 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 6:30 PM
NC A&T
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Hampton 6:30 PM
SC State
Gardner-Webb 7:00 PM
Campbell
MD-Eastern Shore 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Norfolk State 7:00 PM
Savannah State
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
Abilene Christian
McNeese State 7:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Milwaukee 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 7:30 PM
Alabama State
Prairie View 8:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Texas 8:00 PM
Iowa State
Texas Southern 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Long Island 2:00 PM
Bryant
Central Conn St 2:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fairleigh Dickinson 2:30 PM
Sacred Heart
St Francis-PA 3:00 PM
Wagner
Delaware State 3:00 PM
NC Central
Howard 4:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State 4:30 PM
NC A&T
Hampton 4:30 PM
SC State
Norfolk State 4:45 PM
Savannah State
MD-Eastern Shore 5:00 PM
Florida A&M
Samford 5:00 PM
(25) Chattanooga
Prairie View 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Alabama A&M
Southern U 5:30 PM
Alabama State
Texas Southern 5:30 PM
Miss Valley St
(12) Texas A&M 6:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
Mercer
Wofford 6:00 PM
Furman
Morehead St 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Illinois 6:00 PM
Michigan
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 8:00 PM
Auburn
(15) Nebraska 8:00 PM
(20) Iowa
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close