I know I should be very excited about the Vikings prospects for this upcoming season. The trade for Jared Allen, despite the high cost of a first- and two third-round picks, has made the Vikings the favorites to win their division and the team should be considered Super Bowl contenders.
The Vikings pass defense was so bad last season only because of our woeful pass rush. The addition of last year’s NFL sacks leader to the right end position turned the number one weakness on defense into the best defensive line in the league.
Allen has improved steadily since his first season, earning nine sacks as a rookie in 2004, 11 sacks the next year, slipped to 7.5 sacks in 2006, but rebounded in 2007 to lead the league with 15.5 sacks. He achieved these numbers while playing for a Kansas City Chiefs line that included defensive tackles Alfonso Boon (25 tackles, 1 sack) and Ron Edwards (23 tackles, 3 sacks), and second-year defensive end Tamba Hali (58.5 tackles, 7.5 sacks). Not a bad line but those tackles are no Pat and Kevin Williams.
If Allen continues the progress he’s made in his career thus far–and there’s no reason to think he won’t–the Vikes should have their best front four since the 1989 line of Al Noga, Keith Millard, Henry Thomas, Chris Doleman line, and perhaps the best line since the 70s-era Purple People Eaters of Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Gary Larsen, and Carl Eller.
With a line of Ray Edwards/Brian Robison, The Williams Wall, and Allen, teams will no longer have the luxury of focusing their double-teams on one of the Williamses. Edwards and Robison are good pass rushers who now have a bit of experience under their belt and who combined for 9.5 sacks last year. With opponents focused on Pat and Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, look for Edwards and Robison to have a very good year.
The pocket pressure we should be able bring with the front four will free up the linebackers to cover the underneath routes which, in turn, will provide more time for the front four to get to the quarterback. And that will allow the secondary to become ball hawks rather than having to shut down the passing game all on their own.
This defense should, in the immortal words of Brad Childress, "kick ass."
So why do I still have reservations about the Vikings Super Bowl aspiration this season?
Tarvaris Jackson. It really depends on Jackson’s ability to keep defenses honest by being able to hit receivers and defeat the eight-in-the-box defenses we saw all last year. If it kicks in for Jackson in his third season, we’ll do fine. If not, while I’m a fan of Gus Frerotte, the question is whether or not he’s durable enough at his age to start for most of the season.
Jared Allen Highlight Video
Um, be afraid Visanthe Shiancoe, be very afraid: