Terrell Suggs is a great player, but no defensive player excelled under the circumstances that Jared Allen did in 2011. If this were a Most Valuable Player award then I could see Suggs edging him, as his team and unit were better than Allen's Minnesota Vikings, but that is all the more reason Allen deserved the award.
Allen had to contend with chip blocks and protections geared to stop him all year long. Allen narrowly missed the NFL's sack record with 22. Many don't realize how amazing that total is—it's nearly a sack and a half per game.
He was the lone defensive playmaker for a bad Vikings defense. In football, teams can't say, "Let Allen get his, we'll just control the other 10 players." Allowing Allen to get his could result in your QB being out for weeks or even the entire season.
Teams tried as best they could to stop him and couldn't. Allen had only three games without a sack all season. The next closest Viking in sacks was Brian Robison with eight. Allen was the only player on opposing team's game plan and he still nearly set an NFL sack record.
Suggs finished with 14 sacks, his 52 tackles were only seven more than Allen. He had only one more INT and Suggs forced three more fumbles.
Many of those numbers are very close and the fact that Allen was able to stay close to Suggs in tackles and INTs as a defensive lineman is impressive.
Suggs is listed as a linebacker, but in the Baltimore Ravens scheme he rushes the passer most often, but he still gets more opportunities away from the line of scrimmage to make plays than Allen does.
This award was suppose to go the best defensive player in the NFL in 2011, regardless of his supporting cast. No player was better individually than Allen.