K5166 BC-FBN-VIKINGS-ALLEN 11-13 0613

Jared Allen’s addition improves already-tough Vikings defensive line

By Chip Scoggins

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


MINNEAPOLIS — Leslie Frazier said the plan has unfolded exactly as it was envisioned.


The Vikings’ defensive coordinator thought the offseason addition of defensive end Jared Allen to a line that featured tackles Kevin and Pat Williams would generate enough pressure from the front four so that the team wouldn’t need to blitz nearly as often.

Statistics support his assumption. The defensive line has 101 quarterback hurries and 17 1/2 sacks through nine games. The linemen contributed 83 hurries and 15 1/2 sacks through nine games last season and had two more players in their rotation.

Kevin Williams had a team-high 22 hurries at this point last season. He has 25 hurries this season, which is second to Allen’s 30. Defensive end Kenechi Udeze led the linemen with four sacks though nine games in 2007. Allen already has eight sacks, followed by Kevin Williams with seven.

In other words, the defensive line is living up to its preseason billing.

"It’s been great to see our front be able to generate pressure without us always having to bring six or seven (guys)," Frazier said. "It’s quite a contrast from a year ago, when our linebackers were at the top as far as our sack leaders in comparison to this year, when our front actually is leading our team in sacks."

In consecutive victories against Houston and Green Bay, Vikings linemen combined for 34 quarterback hurries, six sacks and a number of knockdowns. Kevin Williams and Allen also forced Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers into two safeties Sunday.

"We’ve really been getting our rhythm going," Allen said. "We’ve been able to put teams in position where they have to drop back and pass so we’ve been able to get some 1-on-1 opportunities, so it’s been great."

That has enabled Frazier to call fewer blitzes and allowed the linebackers to help in coverage.


"They’re just letting all of those guys go out and hunt," linebacker Ben Leber said. "That’s what they do best, and it’s great for us. Our drops don’t have to be as deep and sometimes you get tipped balls and interceptions because of it."

Allen’s relentless pass rush helped Kevin Williams as much as anyone. Williams has more rooo to operate inside because he’s facing fewer double-teams and has a chance to set career highs in sacks (he had 11.5 in 2004) and hurries.

"(Allen’s presence) is part of it, but also Kevin has continued to improve," Frazier said. "But there’s no question that adding Jared Allen has made a tremendous difference. It’s hard to ignore him if you’re an offensive coach and an offensive line coach in particular. You have to do some things to try and slow him down."

Pressuring the quarterback will be a difficult task Sunday. The Buccaneers run the West Coast offense, which relies on quick-hitting passes and doesn’t give defenses much time to get to quarterback Jeff Garcia. The Bucs have allowed only 10 sacks.

However, the Bucs’ offensive line also is the second-youngest in the NFL, combining for only 192 career starts. This will be a tough matchup for that unit as well.

"It’s going to come down to, like it does every week, stopping the run first and foremost," Allen said. "I think if we can force them to drop back and throw we should be all right."


(c) 2008, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


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