Former Vikings DE Jared Allen settles in with Bears
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Defensive end Jared Allen turns 32 this week. He wants nothing to do with the idea of becoming a situational pass rusher as a 30-something Chicago Bear.
Allen plans to play as many snaps as possible at the right defensive end spot he played the previous 10 years for the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs, with the hope of turning around a defense that dropped from third to 30th in scoring last season.
"It’s just, I have a lot left in this tank," Allen said Monday during his first visit to Halas Hall. "My body feels good. And again, I feel like I can make waves. And not for me, personally. I want to win a Super Bowl."
Allen decided against possibly joining forces with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks to take a four-year contract for a reported $32 million with the Bears, a move viewed by some as one of NFL free agency’s biggest surprises.
"What attracted me here is the opportunity to go out and win it, to earn it and win it and be a part of it and be a piece of that puzzle," Allen said. "And again, like I’ve always said, things have to line up. It has to be the right place, great for my family. Obviously, you want a fair contract throughout the whole deal. And everything lined up."
Allen will line up with defense completely rebuilt at end since last year and said he’ll enjoy playing alongside former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, who the Bears signed during the 2013 season after he recovered from a groin tear.
"We’re going to be a vaunted Bears defense again, and it’s going to start with us up front, it’s going to start with that front seven," Allen said.
Allen takes a position Julius Peppers had last year before being cut by the Bears for salary cap purposes. He joins former Oakland Raider Lamarr Houston and former Detroit Lion Willie Young as part of the Bears’ new-look defensive end group. The Bears had only 17 sacks from defensive ends last year and as a team tied the Jacksonville Jaguars for last in sacks with 31.
Yet Allen said it’s not all about the pass rush for him.
"Everybody thinks that defensive ends and D-line, all you want to do is rush the passer," he said. "Well, I come from a long line of thinking that you have to earn the right to rush the passer. We’re going to get after it in the run game."
Bears general manager Phil Emery said he isn’t worried about Allen being slower at Soldier Field than he was on the artificial turf of the Metrodome.
"I think I saw the stat that he’s had 27 sacks in his last 28 games on (grass), so I’m not concerned," Emery said. "I saw him sack us on our field … I think the surface doesn’t really matter to him because of his high-level instincts, his ability to rush the passer, his use of his length, his leverage, his toughness. He is a physical player and a high-motor player, so I don’t think surface matters."
Allen’s positive outlook are factors the Bears considered when they pursued him.
"I think he’s got a great blend of energy, just love for the game, almost a boyish love for the game and maturity," Emery said. "Any locker room can use that and the Chicago Bears certainly can use that."
Coming to Chicago will be a change in culture for Allen, who grew up on a ranch in Morgan Hill, Calif.
"I’m not a big fan of cities, I grew up on a horse ranch," he said. "But I’ve always liked Chicago. For some reason it makes sense."