Jared Allen knows the drill: Pass-rushing defensive ends are supposed to put up big sack numbers. He's done that each of the last three years.
In 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, he had 15.5 sacks. Each of the last two seasons with the Vikings have brought 14.5 sacks for Allen.
This year, however, Allen is stuck on one sack after four games.
"That half-step, half second, it's huge. Huge. There's always what-ifs, but it eventually comes back and they come in spurts," he said.
Allen's only sack of the season has come against Chad Henne of the Dolphins. But the only NFC North game the Vikings have played this year was against the Detroit Lions, and last year Allen loaded up against divisional opponents.
Allen recorded two sacks against Jay Cutler on Nov. 29. He got three against Aaron Rodgers of the Packers on Nov. 1 and a whopping 4.5 against Rodgers in the Vikings' Oct. 5 game against the Packers in the Metrodome.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier defended Allen's performance this year.
"He's playing well. What's happened with Jared is he's still getting a lot of situations where there are backs chipping or tight ends to (his) side. And what it does, it helps our passing defense," Frazier said.
"Our pass defense is improved primarily because of the types of blocks that we're getting from offenses right now.
"He's going to have a bust-out game and hopefully it will be this weekend. But he's not a disappointment by any means, whether it's our run defense or pass rush. It's just people pay a great deal of attention to him. We've just got to get other guys that are getting one-on-ones to step up and help us in those areas."
Allen is more frustrated that the Vikings haven't been winnings games with regularity this season. They lost to New Orleans by five points, to Miami by four points and had the ball with a two-point deficit with two minutes to play against the New York Jets on Monday night.
He recites the circumstances late in the games of each of those losses.
"We've been in every game. We've been playing well, but it's some little things that have come up, whether it's a missed tackle here, a missed tackle there, you can go back and watch every game and be like, dang, one person is out of their gap and they rush for a touchdown," Allen said. "It's just little things, but beyond that we're in position to win games. We just have to win it. We've got the talent to do it."
For the Vikings' sake, it had better start soon. They are 1-3 and getting into desperation mode after having Super Bowl hopes during the offseason. Lucky for them, they still have two games each with Chicago and Green Bay, which could help turn around their standing in the division.
"This season is far from over. Our division is far from over," Allen said. "It's interesting. This week, we really backed off so guys have time to heal up. Believe it or not, even though we lost Monday, there was some energy on this field. There's some, ‘You know what? It's time to get going and I think everybody knows we have the team to do it. It's hard to say that a lot of times in this league, so it's time to get going."
The Cowboys present a good opportunity for the Vikings to get it rolling. Both teams are 1-3 and Minnesota had all kinds of success against the Cowboys in the playoffs last year.
During that game, a 34-3 drubbing, the defense had six sacks, a postseason record for the Vikings. Allen had one of those sacks of Tony Romo.
"I thought our guys definitely did a great job of rushing the passer in that game and we're going to have to do the same thing again in this game. We're going to have to do a great job of rushing the passer," Frazier said. "But any quarterback if you hit him consistently, it's going to have an effect, if you're Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, even Brett Favre. You want to hit the quarterback and create some indecision and hopefully we can do that again this weekend."
Ray Edwards was the sackmaster in the playoff game against the Cowboys with three sacks. Frazier said Edwards is still benefitting from the way offenses approach Allen.
"Ray was a beneficiary of the type of blocks that Jared gets and other guys as well. Brian Robison benefitted, so did Kevin (Williams)," Frazier said. "That's just the nature of it and we've just got to keep bringing other people along. We're going to have some one-on-one situations in this ballgame with Dallas and we'll have to win in those situations. And when Jared has his opportunities, he'll win also."
It's just that right now, certain sack numbers stand out. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys has six sacks, the same number as the entire Vikings team after the 2009 Vikings led the league with 46 sacks.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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