When is 10.5 sacks not 10.5 sacks?
That question isn't being asked nearly enough this season. ESPN, NBC, and FOX personalities all have mentioned Jared Allen when discussing awards like Defensive Player of the Year—all citing his tremendous dominance this season.
Really? I haven't noticed.
10.5 Sacks Is Not 10.5 Sacks When 7.5 of Them Come Against the Green Bay Packers
Sacking Aaron Rodgers is like catching the swine flu—everyone is doing it. Sacking Aaron Rodgers is like hitting concrete after you stumble out of the bar. Sacking Aaron Rodgers is so easy, a caveman could do it.
The Green Bay Packers are on pace to shatter their team record of 62 sacks allowed in a season. Stylez White, Leonard Little, Turk McBride, Julian Peterson, DeMarcus Ware, and Antwan Odom all had multi-sack days against the glorified police tape that is the Packers' offensive line.
That is one sack against Jeff Backus, Michael Oher, and Barry Sims.
10.5 Sacks Is Not 10.5 Sacks When You Play On the Best Defensive Line In the NFL
Look at the talent around Jared Allen.
Kevin Williams is, arguably the best pass rushing defensive tackle in the game. Pat Williams eats space like it's wrapped in bacon. Ray Edwards is the "weak link" on the defensive line with 5.5 sacks. Although Edwards could be upgraded in the upcoming draft, there are 31 NFL teams who would love to have him on their team.
Behind Allen, the Vikings' Tampa Two defense doesn't have many weak spots. In fact, the defense is predicated around the defensive line pass pressure.
The Vikings blitz about as often as Artie Lange changes his shirt—barely at all.
Putting seven talented athletes in coverage on almost every passing down means that QBs rarely have open receivers, leading to coverage sacks aplenty.
So, as an offensive coordinator, what can be done to stop Jared Allen? The answer is, not much. A tight end can be moved over to his side, running backs can be left in to chip, or roll outs can be designed away from Allen.
You can't double-team him.
The instant an offensive guard is used to double Allen, Kevin Williams might as well be credited with a sack...or Pat Williams...or Ray Edwards.
10.5 Sacks Is Not 10.5 Sacks When You're Not Applying Constant Pressure
The insinuation with 10.5 sacks is that you've spent the entire season terrorizing quarterbacks.
With Jared Allen, that just isn't the case.
ProFootballFocus.com is one of the Internet's most thorough analysis sites—every game, every player, every play. According to their rating system, Allen ranks as the 13th best defensive end. Rushing the passer, he is 10th.
If you question, doubt, or disagree with their ratings system, look at the quantifiable stats.
Jared Allen only has five QB hits—good for 23rd in the league.
That means Allen has (legally) contacted the quarterback 15.5 times. Compare that to another Minnesota Viking—Ray Edwards. Edwards has a league-leading 15 quarterback hits and a more than respectable seven sacks. That means Edwards has put the opposing quarterback in the dirty stuff 22 times.
QB pressures are just as much an important stat.
Indianapolis Colt Dwight Freeney leads the league with an insane 32 pressures. His teammate Robert Mathis is second with 25. Jared Allen has a respectable 19 pressures, good for a tie at sixth (with Trent Cole and Osi Umenyiora).
In conclusion, Jared Allen is a great defensive end—one of the best in the league. He just isn't having the type of dominant season that the football media would like us to believe. By and large, the majority of Minnesota Vikings fans understand this.
Because of Allen's star power and name recognition, he will almost certainly make the Pro Bowl. Fans in NFC cities like New York (Justin Tuck), Washington (Andre Carter), Philadelphia (Trent Cole), Atlanta (John Abraham), and St. Louis (Leonard Little) will all have legitimate cause to claim their guy was unfairly passed over.
As for All-Pro teams and Defensive Player of the Year, anything more than a cursory look at the stats proves that Jared Allen doesn't deserve those honors.
It is clear that 10.5 sacks isn't always 10.5 sacks.