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

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
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 Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Christian Ponder ever be a full-time starter in the NFL?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close