Allen’s 5.5 sacks in 2014 were a career low and he appeared to have lost some of his trademark burst off the edge. This off-season, that burst has not returned and it’s unlikely he’ll be the dominant pass rusher he was for most of his career.
Allen is transitioning to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense for the first time in his career and, considering his limitations as a pure pass rusher, the position switch could be a good thing.
He played well against the run last year and putting him in space will help him better set the edge. In addition, Allen is very agile for a player of his size and has value in coverage – he nearly intercepted a screen pass in the first preseason contest.
“I understand how the position creates different opportunities, that are actually better than putting your hand on the ground 24/7,” Allen said. “This game will humble you. I got a nice little slice of humble pie last year. You look at a new opportunity as just that, a new opportunity.”
Allen may never again be a league leader in sacks but his position switch may very well make him a better all-around player.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.