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

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
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