Jared Allen is a Chicago Bear. That's not unprecedented territory, as Alan Page proved by moving to the Bears in the sunset of his career.
But from this view, Allen still has good years left in him and it's hard to discount the notion that top-notch athletes who feel rejected by their former franchise can have a big rebound year.
It happened with Brett Favre … but only for one year. Favre's first post-Packers year (with the New York Jets) was ordinary, and by Favre standards that just isn't good enough. He threw the same amount of touchdowns as interceptions, 22, and compiled 3,472 yards.
However, when the Jets released Favre upon his request, the Vikings and Brad Childress were all over the opportunity. Entering the third year as head coach, Childress had enough of poor quarterback play and was beginning to feel the pressure to succeed. Favre learned a thing or two from the masseuses with the New York Jets and his presence alone relaxed Childress and the Vikings offense.
It was clear Favre had a score to settle with the Packers – more specifically, the front office he felt disrespected him. Coming to the Vikings allowed Favre to exact his revenge twice a year against the Packers. The first year was an incredible ride, especially in his game at Lambeau Field, which featured jeers from the Lambeau faithful, including a sign calling him "Judas."
But when Favre returned in 2010, there were immediate signs his attitude had changed. He was coming off a serious ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game and knew how hard it would be to return for a second consecutive deep playoff run. His point had already been proved and it was clear he wasn't returning in 2010 with the same proverbial chip on the shoulder that drives so many athletes to greatness. This time, he said, he was doing it for his teammates that came calling on him and had been begging for his return throughout the offseason.
Doing something for teammates seems admirable and within the team concept, but pro players need to be driven from within. Favre went from overdrive in 2009 to having the transmission fall out in 2010. He and Childress clashed. Childress was fired, the Randy Moss era lasted only a month, and Favre's departure was in stark contrast to his arrival. There was no chauffer from Childress, no helicopters circling overhead. He just left and that was it.
Allen's departure with the Vikings has been nearly as quiet, but there were some big difference from Favre's breakup with the Packers. Allen and the Vikings were both resigned to the idea that it was going to end months before it became official. In December, Allen was talking like a man accepting of playing with another team in 2014.
Most figured he would go to a contender. Instead, he went with the more familiar opportunity and likely the only decent offer he received after DeMarcus Ware was the favored one in Denver. Seattle apparently didn't see the need to spend $10 million a year, and after visits with Denver and Dallas, Allen was likely forced to choose between retirement or settling for half of what he made in recent years. The money won out over a life of changing diapers and planning the next great hunting adventure.
But Allen's path could follow similarly to Favre's. Allen still has something left in the tank, a statement we aren't convinced we could make with Julius Peppers, whom Allen is replacing after Peppers went to the Packers. Peppers looked a shell of his previous self in 2013. Allen proved he can still bring it, especially late last year.
Many figured Allen's late-season resurgence – getting 6½ sacks in his final five games – had everything to do with him wanting to reach double digits and extend that personal streak to seven straight years. No doubt that had something to do with it, but there have been indications that the Vikings' defensive philosophy finally changed late in the season to allow players to make plays outside the confines of a regimented role.
Favre's split from the Packers was an acrimonious affair. Allen and the Vikings was a classic case of an amicable end that is best for all parties involved. The Vikings get younger with a new coaching staff coming in and asking new responsibilities of their linemen. Allen gets a chance to end his career and maximize his earning potential. And the Bears upgraded their pass rush.
All but the last aspect are wins for the Vikings.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Sunday slant: Allen still has something left
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