Despite the onslaught of impressive, young talent, Jared Allen is still the NFL's best pass-rusher. This concept may seem hard to believe when players like J.J. Watt, Clay Matthews and DeMarcus Ware are doing plenty of QB terrorizing as well, but none quite measure up to Allen.
The star of the Minnesota Vikings defense and resident calf roper has a unique skill set that makes him a lethal presence on the defensive line and helps every player lined up next to him.
Nine players on the Vikings have recorded sacks this season, and six of those men have taken the quarterback down multiple times. The mere presence of Allen forces offensive lines to make radical adjustments.
Constant pulling guards and added tight ends are utilized in futile attempts to keep Allen away from the signal-caller, and that opens up lanes for those around him. Is that not as important a statistic as his individual sack numbers?
Not that Allen has been shut down; rather, he is tied for third in the league with seven sacks. Minnesota ranks 11th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, and while much of that success can be attributed to solid secondary play, the QB hurries and constant pressure of the front seven have undoubtedly played a role as well.
Allen does better at making plays out of hopeless situations than anyone else in football, and he has done it for years. He has recorded double-digit sacks in six of the past seven seasons, including a career-high 22 in 2011.
Allen has reached the doomsday age of 30, and yet his production has only become more impressive in recent years.
Is there a more complete defensive end than Allen? A player that combines speed, versatility, intelligence and pure talent in a better package?
Sure, some guys are faster and some have better swim moves, but none are better at timing moves properly and keeping offensive tackles on their toes, constantly trying to guess how Allen will beat them.
He has missed just two games in his nine-year career and is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for a reason.
On a Vikings defense that does not have the most talent in football, Allen is able to ensure his presence is felt each and every week. Despite a disappointing overall performance by Minnesota on Thursday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this is a defense that has looked improved this season.
The main catalyst for that turnaround has been Allen, the best pass-rusher in football.