Allen endorses coaches, Vikings' environment

Jared Allen wants a Super Bowl ring and believes the current coaching staff is capable of doing it. As he prepared to leave Winter Park earlier this week, he was in a reflective, supportive mood at the end of a "gross season."

Black Monday is always a bad day around the NFL. Coaches and general managers of teams that didn't live up to expectations get fired or put on notice that they have avoided the executioner this time around but are on a short leash.

In the Vikings organization, it would have been easy to clear the decks of the front office coming off a 3-13 season that started down in Mankato with playoff expectations – hoping to be the No. 3 seed in the NFL playoffs, not the No. 3 pick in April's draft. Instead, owner Zygi Wilf gave a vote of confidence to Leslie Frazier and promoted Rick Spielman to the title of general manager.

One coach whose future isn't nearly as certain is defensive coordinator Fred Pagac. The Vikings suffered a lot of injuries to the defense, especially in the secondary, and Pagac has become the focus of the questions as to why the defense struggled so badly at times. While his future is uncertain, he definitely has one player strongly in his corner – and it doesn't hurt that it's the best player on the defense.

Jared Allen said he is going to do whatever is within his power to try to make sure Pagac remains as the Vikings defensive coordinator because he believes in what Pug is preaching and that he deserves to see his labor bear fruit.

"The passion of these coaches – they want to win," Allen said. "I love Coach Pagac to death. I'm going to fight for him. I want him to be our D-coordinator next year. They want to win. They've got your back. To have coaches that you trust is rare. I've played for guys where maybe you don't know them or you don't really have that rapport with them. This is a very family-oriented organization and I love that. Knowing these guys on an individual basis make me know that – nobody wants to lose – they will do everything in their power to create a team that's competitive next year to get back on top in the North. That's where knowing their hearts and knowing who they are as men puts my faith in them and this organization. The fact they went out on a limb and brought me here – they had to trade a lot of picks to get me here. When people put that kind of faith in you, you can't not have that kind of faith in them."

It's clear that Pagac's future as the Vikings defensive coordinator is tenuous at best and Allen knows that, as a player, his opinion likely won't sway the final decision. Asked if he believes Pagac is vulnerable and could be fired, he said he hopes not, but realizes it's a possibility.

"I don't know, that's not my job," Allen said. "I can just state my opinions to Coach Frazier like I do every year. What decisions are going to be made are going to be made. I just know that I appreciate our coaching staff and everything they put into this season, especially with the injuries and the way things panned out. It's very easy to disconnect and no one did that. As a player, that means a lot to me to know that they were in this thing with me to the very end."

Allen believes the Vikings aren't that far away from being a championship contender. He pointed to teams like the Rams of the last decade and the 49ers of this season that rose from the bottom of the league to the top in just one season.

They had a lot of players like him – individual talents that saw a light bulb turn on and the years of practice and struggling turned into success very quickly. While nobody can claim Allen hasn't done his part, he sees the window starting to close – he turns 30 during the offseason – and said he doesn't want to end his career like teammate Jim Kleinsasser, who played 13 seasons with the Vikings but never got to the Super Bowl. Individual accomplishments are nice, but the ultimate goal is always team-based.

"I've accomplished the individual goals that I've always wanted to accomplish in my career, but the looming thing at the end of it is that you're always missing something," Allen said. "For me, that's a Super Bowl ring. With Jimmy retiring, it really put it in perspective for me this week. Here's a guy who played 13 years in the same organization, which is hard, and got to two NFC Championship Games. He never got that ring and he had to end his career on a 3-13 team. For me selfishly, I don't want to be that guy. You talk to him. I guarantee you he wishes he had a Super Bowl ring. That's what we play this game for. I just don't want to be in that position when it's time for me to retire."

With the conclusion of the 2011 season, the Vikings of 2012 are almost assuredly going to be markedly different. For veterans like Allen that have been though that process, they become a bit desensitized to the cutthroat atmosphere that exists in the NFL.

"You just get numb to it," Allen said. "Being in the league this (long) and seeing the turnover rate, it's kind of a Catch-22. It's the reason why we have such a good league – we have such a high turnover rate, which breeds great competition. But what makes you a good team is continuity with your teammates. You get used to it. Guys know it. You build relationships and you keep them."

Allen is something of a country-style philosopher in many ways, able to see the bigger picture of things while maintaining a "just folks" persona. He believes that winning can hide a team's deficiencies, but, when you lose as often as the Vikings have the last two seasons, the weaknesses are glaring and it's clear what needs to be changed.

Instead of just wanting to erase the memory of this, as he called it, "gross season," Allen sees the opportunity to turn the negative into a positive. Rather than being saddened by the end of an unfruitful season, he sees it as the blueprint for building a new, improved team in 2012.

"2011-12 is over. It was miserable record-wise, so I'm glad that's over," Allen said. "We can start building on the future now. This is probably the most excited I've been about an offseason to see what direction we're going to go. I've got all the faith in the world in our coaches, our management and our ownership that they're going to make the right plays and we're going to be really competitive next year. Anything is possible in this league."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Black Monday is always a bad day around the NFL. Coaches and general managers of teams that didn't live up to expectations get fired or put on notice that they have avoided the executioner this time around but are on a short leash. In the Vikings organization, it would have been easy to clear the decks of the front office coming off a 3-13 season that started down in Mankato with playoff expectations – hoping to be the No. 3 seed in the NFL playoffs, not the No. 3 pick in April's draft. Instead, owner Zygi Wilf gave a vote of confidence to Leslie Frazier and promoted Rick Spielman to the title of general manager. One coach whose future isn't nearly as certain is defensive coordinator Fred Pagac. The Vikings suffered a lot of injuries to the defense, especially in the secondary, and Pagac has become the focus of the questions as to why the defense struggled so badly at times. While his future is uncertain, he definitely has one player strongly in his corner – and it doesn't hurt that it's the best player on the defense. Jared Allen said he is going to do whatever is within his power to try to make sure Pagac remains as the Vikings defensive coordinator because he believes in what Pug is preaching and that he deserves to see his labor bear fruit. \"The passion of these coaches – they want to win,\" Allen said. \"I love Coach Pagac to death. I'm going to fight for him. I want him to be our D-coordinator next year. They want to win. They've got your back. To have coaches that you trust is rare. I've played for guys where maybe you don't know them or you don't really have that rapport with them. This is a very family-oriented organization and I love that. Knowing these guys on an individual basis make me know that – nobody wants to lose – they will do everything in their power to create a team that's competitive next year to get back on top in the North. That's where knowing their hearts and knowing who they are as men puts my faith in them and this organization. The fact they went out on a limb and brought me here – they had to trade a lot of picks to get me here. When people put that kind of faith in you, you can't not have that kind of faith in them.\" It's clear that Pagac's future as the Vikings defensive coordinator is tenuous at best and Allen knows that, as a player, his opinion likely won't sway the final decision. Asked if he believes Pagac is vulnerable and could be fired, he said he hopes not, but realizes it's a possibility. \"I don't know, that's not my job,\" Allen said. \"I can just state my opinions to Coach Frazier like I do every year. What decisions are going to be made are going to be made. I just know that I appreciate our coaching staff and everything they put into this season, especially with the injuries and the way things panned out. It's very easy to disconnect and no one did that. As a player, that means a lot to me to know that they were in this thing with me to the very end.\" Allen believes the Vikings aren't that far away from being a championship contender. He pointed to teams like the Rams of the last decade and the 49ers of this season that rose from the bottom of the league to the top in just one season. They had a lot of players like him – individual talents that saw a light bulb turn on and the years of practice and struggling turned into success very quickly. While nobody can claim Allen hasn't done his part, he sees the window starting to close – he turns 30 during the offseason – and said he doesn't want to end his career like teammate Jim Kleinsasser, who played 13 seasons with the Vikings but never got to the Super Bowl. Individual accomplishments are nice, but the ultimate goal is always team-based. \"I've accomplished the individual goals that I've always wanted to accomplish in my career, but the looming thing at the end of it is that you're always missing something,\" Allen said. \"For me, that's a Super Bowl ring. With Jimmy retiring, it really put it in perspective for me this week. Here's a guy who played 13 years in the same organization, which is hard, and got to two NFC Championship Games. He never got that ring and he had to end his career on a 3-13 team. For me selfishly, I don't want to be that guy. You talk to him. I guarantee you he wishes he had a Super Bowl ring. That's what we play this game for. I just don't want to be in that position when it's time for me to retire.\" With the conclusion of the 2011 season, the Vikings of 2012 are almost assuredly going to be markedly different. For veterans like Allen that have been though that process, they become a bit desensitized to the cutthroat atmosphere that exists in the NFL. \"You just get numb to it,\" Allen said. \"Being in the league this (long) and seeing the turnover rate, it's kind of a Catch-22. It's the reason why we have such a good league – we have such a high turnover rate, which breeds great competition. But what makes you a good team is continuity with your teammates. You get used to it. Guys know it. You build relationships and you keep them.\" Allen is something of a country-style philosopher in many ways, able to see the bigger picture of things while maintaining a \"just folks\" persona. He believes that winning can hide a team's deficiencies, but, when you lose as often as the Vikings have the last two seasons, the weaknesses are glaring and it's clear what needs to be changed. Instead of just wanting to erase the memory of this, as he called it, \"gross season,\" Allen sees the opportunity to turn the negative into a positive. Rather than being saddened by the end of an unfruitful season, he sees it as the blueprint for building a new, improved team in 2012. \"2011-12 is over. It was miserable record-wise, so I'm glad that's over,\" Allen said. \"We can start building on the future now. This is probably the most excited I've been about an offseason to see what direction we're going to go. I've got all the faith in the world in our coaches, our management and our ownership that they're going to make the right plays and we're going to be really competitive next year. 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