Jared Allen has underwhelmed but expects a 'monster year' next season
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Jared Allen has had an underwhelming year.
By his standards, as measured by the individual stat he cares most about - sacks - 2013 has been a disappointment. He still has three games to attempt to reach a double-digit total, but he needs to average one sack per contest the rest of the way to meet what he called his "minimum" acceptable threshold.
His seven sacks are currently a career-low.
Why aren't the numbers there this season?
"I don't know. I don't have an answer for that," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "If I did I'd gladly correct that. Sometimes they just come in bunches, and some years you have a boatload and some years it's just not your year."
Defensive ends get accolades - and to a certain extent, get paid - for sack totals. Allen said he knows there are other metrics, though, by which he feels he's acquitted himself well.
Allen leads the team in hitting the quarterback, with 15 hits, according to Pro Football Focus. Brian Robison is second with nine. Meanwhile, Allen is third in quarterback hurries with 28 and Robison leads with 56, according to PFF. Allen says he also wants to be judged on forced fumbles (2) and tackles (26), a more holistic view of his production.
"I'm playing good ball. I watch film. I'm probably more critical on myself than anybody can be. I'm there. It'd be one thing if you weren't there," Allen said. "It comes down to: does the ball get out [first]?"
"Technique is still good. I still know how to process things," Allen said. "It's sad that we only get judged on how we rush the passer."
That's how the great ones are judged, though, and his shriveled sack total is fact. Whether it's true or even important that he's been beaten by a half step or a split second on occasion is open for debate. The highest-paid player on a team in a salary cap league has monumental demands. For a player who prides himself on sack totals, Allen hasn't gotten the job done to his satisfaction this season.
"Me and [Robison] were laughing about it today. ... If we would take the ones that we had in our hands that we either misses or knocked the guy and the ball falls forward, which is an incomplete pass versus a sack/fumble, I think we both would be sitting right around 12 or 13. But again, that's kind of what football is."
"If the guy doesn't throw one away or you don't jump past him or whatever the case may be, we're sitting there with double digits."
He said getting to 10 sacks "means the world to me."
"If you have 10, you can say that you had a good season. Sacks are so hard to get, period. I like to view myself as a 10-sacks-a-year guy. I've got three games to get three so I've got to go out and do what I can do," Allen said.
There's a list that hangs in his locker, which names the players with the most sacks in NFL history. Allen knows exactly where he stands on that list: No. 14.
He needs 2 1/2 sacks to catch the next man on the list, Derrick Brooks, at 126.5. Four more would tie him with Rickey Jackson. Laurence Taylor and Leslie O'Neal are tied for 10th all-time with 132.5.
Allen said he expects to have a "monster year" next season, wherever he signs. Perhaps in Minnesota. More likely elsewhere.
"As long as I feel good and compete at a strong level and I feel like I can still help a team win and be an active role," Allen said when asked how long he plans to play. He added that he's not seeking a part-time role. "I'll retire versus taking a step-down role and being a rotate guy. That's for the birds."