Can Jared Allen Fit in the Bears New 3-4 Defense?
Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Jared Allen must have thought he was safe to sign with the Bears last season. You see, Allen is a 4-3 defensive end through and through. One of the big revelations from Wednesday’s press conferences from John Fox and Ryan Pace is the confirmation that the Chicago Bears will move to a 3-4 defense for the first time in franchise history. So where does Allen fit in with Vic Fangio’s scheme?
"“I think he can be very flexible,” Pace said of Allen. “We can use him in a variety of ways. He has done it for a lot of years. I feel the same way about several other players. (Lamarr) Houston is the same way. I think position flexibility is a strength of some of those guys. And again, I think Vic Fangio and John Fox — intelligent guys that will find ways to maximize their skill sets.”"
Allen will be the Bears’ highest paid defensive player, collecting a hefty $12.5 million in 2015. Is he going to be worth that lofty paycheck? Allen is another veteran on the wrong side of 30 who’s on the tail end of his career. He had the worst production of his career, only recording 5.5 sacks in 15 games. He played through a bout of pneumonia and it took a few weeks to recover.
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Allen is familiar with John Fox and certainly recognizes it’s a new regime:
"“I have known Foxy throughout the years, not as player/coach, but I have met him at the Pro Bowl and stuff like that,” Allen said. “You look at the staff we are putting together now and it is a win-now staff. You bring Fangio in and the Denver staff. I am excited to see the pieces they put together. There are a lot of unknowns right now, especially for a guy like me. I am an old-timer.”"
Allen had previously really scoffed at the idea of moving to a 3-4:
"“I want to end my career as a defensive end,” he said in 2011, via Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com, when the Vikings were considering switching to a 3-4. “And I’m not playing a 2-gap, let me just throw that out the window now.“[Going to a 3-4] is something that will be addressed if and when it happens. I know that we have enough mutual respect for each other that they would at least give me a head’s up and give me an option of what I would want to do. I don’t see that in the future.”"
Now that the Bears have made it official, Allen seems to be warming up to the idea:
"“It’s not that I can’t do it,” Allen said. “For me, it is a question of what kind of system are we going to run? How do I fit in the system? How do we achieve our goals? These things will play out.”"
They will play out indeed. With his big ticket price tag, it’s all but assured that Allen will be on the Bears in 2015 and he’ll get to add to his resume. It’s not completely outrageous to think that Allen could have a turnaround season as a rush specialist. Remember how Julius Peppers looked like he was DOA in 2013 only to find the fountain of youth in Green Bay last season in a move to an outside linebacker. Perhaps the challenge of learning a new position will help Allen focus and regain his Vikings form that tormented the Bears for years.