Jared Allen has been among the NFL's sack leaders, registering 14.5 or more each of the last three years. This year, however, has gotten off to a slow start in the sacks department.
Allen had a sack in his second game played this year, against the Miami Dolphins, but that remains his only one, his lowest output through the first five games of any of his seven seasons.
"I think people are kind of shocked, but it's the first time in my career that I've gone five games and only had one sack," he said. "You look at last week and last week we should have had four or five sacks, but Tony (Romo) elected to throw the ball and we got (interceptions) instead. If the quarterback holds it, we can get it. If not, he throws it, which can be just as good. We'd rather have a turnover."
A slow start doesn't necessarily mean a down year for Allen. He's had two sacks through five games three times in his career, but he usually seems to collect them in a hurry after that. In those other three years, he finished the season with nine sacks as a rookie, 7.5 in 2006 and 14.5 in 2008.
Right now, Allen seems more concerned about the Vikings beating the Packers than him collecting sacks.
"We're worried about winning games right now. Honestly, I think it's one of them times when we need to get on a roll," he said. "You look at last year, last year you're playing with a lead and that forced those teams to hold onto the ball and go down the field. When teams have their whole playbook open, it's different when you're in close games. It's just about rattling the quarterback and making him run where we want him to run."
Vikings coach Brad Childress echoed that sentiment, saying getting a lead on teams early helps both the offense and defense, but so far the Vikings have been outscored 31-14 in the first quarter of their games.
"It's much easier to play our defense when they can pin their ears back," Childress said. "You go back to last year with wins of 14, 26, 14, 27, that's the old West Coast philosophy, Bill Walsh philosophy. In the first half, tire out the defense from rushing the passer, get the lead and be able to run the ball on a tired-out defense in the second half. Now, it doesn't always work perfectly that way, but it's pretty good clinic talk."
Last year, the Vikings led the league with 48 sacks, but so far this year they are tied for second-to-last with only six sacks almost one-third of the way through their season. However, Childress said they are still getting pressure on the quarterback at a pace that compares with previous years.
"We don't go by other people's statistics; we go by ours. I think we had like 15 pressures and nine quarterback hits in that (Cowboys) game," Childress said. "Rushing the passer, it's all about pressure on the quarterback. I know sacks are nice statistics to keep. Nobody keeps hurries or hits, and all those things add up."
Of course, Allen had his best success against the Packers last year going against a makeshift line that had him facing two different starters at left tackle – neither of which was their regular starter at the position, Chad Clifton. In two games against Green Bay, Allen got 7.5 of his 14.5 sacks for the season.
This year, it will likely be a more difficult task if Clifton can play (he has been battling a knee injury, but was a full participant on Thursday).
"He's a good player. He's athletic and a real powerful guy," Allen said off Clifton. "It's always fun to play against him and it's been back and forth since I played against him.
"… I've got enough tape vs. Green Bay in my career that I've seen everybody that they've got to throw at me. We'll go out, we'll keep studying film and hopefully we can dial some new stuff up for them that they haven't seen."
Sacks or not, Allen would love to go on the road and get the Vikings to a .500 record while simultaneously silencing the Lambeau crowd.
"Really, there's no better feeling than shutting up 60 (or) 70,0000 people. Lambeau is a great place to play. They've got great fans," Allen said. "That's the kind of rivalry that makes football fun."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Allen, Childress discuss lack of sacks
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