Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware: Is a 25-sack Season Possible?

Business in the front, party in the back. That's just how Minnesota's Jared Allen likes it.

And although he no longer sports his stylish mullet, he still lives by that motto while on the football field. He's all fun and games until it's time to get down to business, and he's in the business of sacking quarterbacks.

While these same quarterbacks he's been sacking were out making headlines by passing for 5,000 yards (three accomplished this rare feat in 2011), he quietly came just one sack away from breaking the single-season sack record.

Personally, I just like to believe that the record is 22–not 22.5 like the record books say. Michael Strahan, the actual sack king according to the books, earned his record-breaking sack back in his 2001 All Pro season. The final game of the regular season, a 34-25 loss to the Packers, Strahan surpassed Mark Gastineau in the record books when Strahan's good buddy Brett Favre practically fell at his feet.
In my own personal NFL record books I would like to say I'd place an asterisk next to Strahan's name, meaning the Jets' Gastineau (22 sacks in 1984) still holds the single-season record. That is, until this season of course. In a season he failed to win the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award (Baltimore's Terrell Suggs won the honor instead), Allen recorded a personal-best 22 sacks on his way to his fourth career Pro Bowl.

Why have I brought this to everyone's attention today? Well, first off because not too many people really gave him much recognition for it during the season because it appeared to fly under the radar, but also because Allen has opened up about his eye-popping, yet disappointing season.

The mullet-less Allen spoke to Minnesota media today and discussed the possibility of someone one day hitting 25 sacks. Now, considering that's not only beyond the single-season record by 2.5 sacks but also the fact that no one player has ever had two 20+ sack seasons in history (as Allen points out), it seems a bit of an outrageous claim.

But, hey, if the workhorse Jared Allen thinks it can be done, it can be done, right?

“Before you get that close, you’re not really sure if it’s attainable. You think it is, because you always think if someone did it, I could do it. But being right there and actually leaving some stuff on the field — they took the one away in Green Bay, they gave it a team sack — and there were a couple in my arms that I didn’t get it. Or the ones that I was that close. The ones at the end of the year… It was kinda like, ‘Ah, bummed out. Now I’m 23 away again, versus one away.’ But when you start working out again, it’s motivation. How can I push myself just a little further?
I think 25 is possible. I think someone will eventually get it. Look at some of the athletes, the DeMarcus Ware's of the league and the matchups he creates as a 3-4 guy on a running back or something. I think it’s possible. Then again, no one’s ever had two 20-sack seasons in their career in the history of the NFL. So, someone’s gotta do that first. Like I said, I believe 25 is a number that will get hit one year. But when, I don’t know?”
First of all, I love the fact that he acknowledges DeMarcus Ware's presence in Dallas. I always ranked Ware above Allen in the pass-rushing category, perhaps because of his versatility at the outside linebacker position. Ware poses a problem to each offense he lines up against and has a rare combination of size and speed coming from the outside.
Allen, too, is a freak of nature, but lets not forget that this season Ware was just a half a sack shy of becoming the first player to accomplish two 20-sack seasons. The six-time Pro Bowler has averaged 14.2 sacks/season over his seven professional seasons in Dallas and has failed to reach double-digits just once. 

So there's no doubt I completely agree with Allen that a 25 sack season is very possible, and almost sure to happen in the future. But, then again, I don't believe it will be Allen that accomplishes this feat. If anyone, DeMarcus Ware will beat Allen to the punch in Dallas.

Who knows, maybe you will find this on my BOLD predictions list in August: Ware breaks Strahan's 11-year old sack record.

Note: I do not own the above images, and the quotes were found and borrowed from NFL.com (Ian Rapoport). No copyright infringement intended.

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