Jared Allen normally conducts his weekly media session on Thursday, but the Pro Bowl defensive end moved it to Wednesday so that he could address the frenzied trade speculation that ended with him remaining a member of the Vikings. ¶ Allen clearly wanted to get something off his chest, but he didn’t sound like a guy who was disappointed or bitter. If anything, he seemed remarkably upbeat after discussing his situation with coach Leslie Frazier, General Manager Rick Spielman and Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski. ¶ “I understand this business,” Allen said. “There’s no hard feelings. I understand where we’re at in the season. As a matter of fact, I take it as a sign of respect that they still think I have value. But I’m excited to be a Viking. I’m excited to try to right this ship, and I’m all in.”
Allen spoke for nearly 20 minutes about being on the trading block, his future, the team’s 1-6 record and his motivation in a dismal season. Allen described Sunday’s 44-31 loss to the Packers as a “rock bottom” performance that should cause self-reflection by everyone involved.
“Two things can happen when you lose like we did: You can either get in a hole, or you can get motivated,” he said. “That was the worst defensive experience I’ve ever had in my career as a football player, to not make a team punt. For me, that’s embarrassing. I saw the coaches [and] said, ‘If there’s more I can do, let me know. Coach me harder.’ I put it on my back, and we’ve got to turn this thing loose.
“When I made that comment, ‘This is the worst defense I’ve ever been on,’ it had nothing to do with the players, nothing to do with calls, nothing to do with any of that,” he added. “We’re not performing. It has everything to do with performance, and that was the worst defensive performance I’d ever been a part of. That lies just as much on me as it does anybody else. That’s where my mindset’s at.”
Allen’s contract expires at the end of the season so he likely could have only nine games left in a Vikings uniform. Frazier said Allen told him that he wants to finish his career in Minnesota, though Allen was noncommittal about his future when asked by reporters.
“I have great relationships,” he said. “There’s zero animosity, zero anything, but just like with all the trade rumors, I don’t even deal with it until it comes. I’m sure at the end of the year when it’s all said and done, I’ll sit down with Rick and Rob and we’ll all have an honest conversation of where we’re at, what we want to plan on doing, and whatever happens will happen then. Right now it’s about winning football games.”
Allen’s frustration continued to fester after Sunday’s loss in which the Packers converted 13 of 18 third-down opportunities and scored on eight consecutive possessions. Allen said he refused to watch that game film.
“It’s one of those tapes you light on fire and pray it’s an anomaly,” he said. “Our third-down percentage was 72 percent. That is … awful.”
Allen’s production has declined this season, though he still leads the team in sacks (4½) and quarterback hurries (16). As a defense, the Vikings rank near the bottom of the NFL in most statistical categories.
In reflecting on everything that’s gone wrong this season, Allen’s answers offered a mix of edginess and stream of consciousness.
“We got our butt whupped,” he said. “I don’t like being embarrassed and I take ownership for it. When you hear all this [trade] stuff, sometimes you don’t realize how much you love what you’ve got until you feel like it’s almost going to be taken away. I love the Vikings. I’ve put heart and soul into this place for six years. I want to win here. I love these fans here. We’ve gotten our butts kicked for three home games and they don’t deserve that. I feel like we owe them more. I owe my teammates more, I owe my coaching staff more.
“I’m not going to give a huge speech in front of the team and rah-rah that way,” he added. “All I know is to put my pads on, go out there and if guys see me working hard to get better, they say, ‘Hey, 10 years and he’s still working.’ You can either implode, or you can get on your details and make something of it. We can’t forfeit games. We’re not going to pull a Grambling and refuse to get on the bus. Zygi [Wilf] is still going to pay every person in here. They better show up and play some football.”