Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jared Allen to the Vikings (?)

Rumors are heating up that Minnesota is in negotiations with Kansas City for the NFL's reigning sack leader, Jared Allen.

This seems like a perfect match. The Chiefs are in rebuilding mode, need draft picks to build the franchise and are not willing to hamper their future ability to sign players by paying Allen a monster contract now. The Vikings are in a very winable division, have a desperate need for sacks, have the pieces necessary to make this trade happen and have the cap room to pay Allen top dollar.

The Giants proved how important an effective pass rush is in the last third of the season. Minnesota has a solid group of quality players on defense but have trouble putting pressure on the QB without blitzhing. All of the names thrown out there as potential pass rushing specialists to debut in Purple next fall this is far and away a bigger marque name than Justin Smith, Antwan Odom, Jevon Kearse, Derrick Harvey or Phillip Merling.

The only move that would rival this would be moving up in the draft to take Chris Long or Vernon Gohlston. I think Allen would be more productive, but either of the rookie's would be a cheaper option with a ton of upside. While that move would rival this, it would not be as effective or give us the most bang for the 2008 season.

On his own Smith had more sacks than the entire Vikings starting defensive line last season (Williams, Williams, Udeze and Edwards).

It appears as though this trade would require a first round pick and then either a second or a third round pick (depending on what year KC gets our first round pick). If we give up next week's #17 pick then we would likely keep our 2nd, but if we give up next year's first rounder then we'd likely have to drop a second rounder as well. Something like that, the deal is far from complete but that is a general guideline.

I think if you can make this deal you do it! BUT, with all of that said, how much actual impact on the W/L columns would Allen have?

I know that addition of someone who potentially adds 10+ sacks and many more QB pressures, would allow this team to resemble a pass defense. But this defense was already a feared defense that kept the team in position to win nearly every game they played. It was last in the league against the pass but it dominated the league in rush defense and it was 6th in the NFC in points allowed (allowing 1 fewer point per game than 2006!).

What I'm getting at is, there is so much emphasis on the team adding a pass rushing defensive end for what? To reduce the passing yardage allowed? To give up fewer points? While both of those would be a good thing, the one and only position capable of taking this team from 8-8 to a 10-6 or even 11-5 team is the QB.

Let's take a look at the team's 8 losses from last year and asses how a DE would have had a greater impact on reversing the outcome than an improved passing game.

Week 2 - 17-20 loss @ Detroit
For my first example I am throwing out a game with mixed results. Jackson threw 4 interceptions, had he given a better effort or made better decisions we clearly would have won this game. BUT had the defense not given up 359 yds passing we likely would have won as well. Verdict: Well, we did knock Kitna out for much of the game and had 4 sacks so I still hold Jackson's INT's were more significant than the lack of a dominant pass rushing end.

Week 3 - 10-13 loss @ Kansas City
Anytime the defense holds a team to 13 points on the road you can't fault them for the loss. The Chiefs had 201 passing yards mostly on a quick hitting short passing game. Jared Allen can rush the QB but a quick hitting passing game negates that anyway. With that said, Allen did have 8 tackles and two sacks. His team won, coincidence?
Verdict: Put this one on a lack of offense. 4/15 third down conversion and inability to execute a game plan in the second half cost us this very winable game.

Week 4 - 16-23 loss vs. Green Bay
Favre's 344 yds and two TDs speak volumes. Getting a hand on Favre has been a serious problem for a few years against Green Bay. On the offensive side Holcomb had a solid game with 258 yds and a TD.
Verdict: Getting a pass rush potentially would have made a huge difference here. A late Vikings TD made this game look closer than it was. Jared Allen would not have made a 2 TD difference but it would have gone a long way to keeping us in the game and making Favre work for his yards.

Week 7 - 14-24 loss @ Dallas
Another tough one to call. Lets face it we were on the road facing the best of the regular season in the NFC. Jackson was terrible, Childress quit giving the ball to Purple Jesus and the defense allowed 277 passing yards.
Verdict: The defense had 3 sacks, I don't know how many they need to make a bigger difference. Jackson had 72 passing yards and the team was 2/12 on third down. Clearly an improved pass D would have helped but you won't beat a playoff team when your QB gives you 6/19 for 72 yards.

Week 8 - 16-23 loss vs. Philadelphia
On the season McNabb averaged 220 yards passing on the road but he managed to find 333 in the Metrodome. Bollinger and Holcomb combined for a very average but not crippling performance.
Verdict: Getting more than one sack from the defensive line may have helped here. This home game could have swung in our favor with some pressure on McNabb.

Week 10 - 0-34 loss @ Green Bay
Adding Reggie White and Chris Doleman to the Vikings line would not have helped here. Giving up 351 yards and 3 TDs to Favre is a problem. But not being able to put a single point on the board makes it awfully tough to win no matter what the defense does.
Verdict: Nobody gets credit for being able to swing this into the W column.

Week 16 - 21-32 loss vs. Washington
At this point they started letting Jackson play a little bit and he was OK. Todd Collins going 22/26 and racking up 254 yards is unacceptable. This was another case of a quick hitting passing gameplan so adding a Jared Allen may not have had much of an impact, accept we would not have been forced to blitz LBs leaving all three of them available to defend the short passing game.
Verdict: Jackson was good enough to win, passing D killed us. 2 sacks for the Vikes both by LBs.

Week 17 - 19-22 OT loss @ Denver
This one breaks down by halves. The first half was ugly offense, but Jackson showed why he is being given the reigns to Brad the Red Hot Childress Pepper's (BRHCP) Kick Ass Offense (KAO) in the fourth quarter.
Verdict: One sack by a LB shows that a sack or two from the DE may have done enough to force an earlier punt which leads to a FG which avoids overtime.

Here is how it breaks down with this expert analysis.

3 losses could have been avoided with better QB play
1 loss was unavoidable (shut out @ Green Bay)
4 losses could have been avoided with some DE pressure on the QB.

This is not to say that adding Joe Montana would have guarantee anything or adding Reggie White would have equated to a 12-4 season. But marked improvement at either position would have given us a better chance to win those games.

I don't know if Jared Allen alone will take us to the playoffs but adding Allen along with Madieu Williams' coverage skills from the safety position could really make a difference.

This team's ability to move up to the playoffs or even move into a team capable of winning the NFC rests more on the shoulders of Jackson and the passing game than the pass rush. But this is the ultimate team game and adding as many pieces to the puzzle as we can will always make a bid difference.

Lets get this deal done before Allen has a chance to get to Tampa Bay. Don't give up the farm, in fact do what you can to hang onto this year's #17 pick, but get this deal done and use the draft for other needs.

Star Tribune on the potential deal
Jay Glazer who broke the story for Fox Sports
Kansas City Star on Allen leaving KC
John Clayton weighs in
Daily Norseman is doing a dance already
Pioneer Press story today

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