Leading up to the opening of the 2012 season, I thought I’d take a quick look at some of the key members of the Vikings roster and try to give an objective and (mostly) unbiased opinion on how they would fare this coming season. These will be brief little blurbs about what we can reasonably expect from a given player, hopefully with some amount of thought and insight behind them. At the end of the season I’ll take a look back at my predictions and will most likely be horrified at how wrong I was. We’ll begin with some of the established veterans who are basically known quantities, and throughout the preseason begin to look at some of the newer players.
Let’s start with a really simple one: Jared Allen. If you had to pick a Vikings MVP for the 2011 season there would be no doubt that number 69 is the clear winner. On a team with only three real superstars, the other two being Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, Allen stood out easily. With 22 sacks Allen surpassed Hall of Famer Chris Doleman as the Vikings single season sack leader, and came up a sack short of beating Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22.5 sacks in a single season. Unfortunately this incredible performance by Jared Allen came when the team as a whole was at an all-time low. Well, at least tying an all-time low.
So what do we expect from Allen in 2012? More of the same. Like I said, this is an easy one. Allen has always been a great player, and has been nothing short of spectacular since arriving in Minnesota in 2008. 2012 will see Allen continuing on with business as usual, performing as one of the best defensive ends in the NFL, and probably wracking up an obscene amount of sacks. Which brings us to the real question: will Allen reach/exceed last years total of 22 sacks?
Well… No. As great as it would be to see Allen repeat last years performance and break Strahan’s record, it’s just not likely to happen. While the Vikings were crumbling around him, everything seemed to go right for Allen, allowing him to be far more prolific than ever before. It’s simply not realistic to expect a repeat of such a spectacular season. With the way the league is going, placing ever more importance on the passing game, I predict that the Strahan record will not last much longer. Jared Allen himself predicted in an interview earlier this offseason that in the coming years it wouldn’t be unheard of for a defensive player to reach 25 sacks in a season, citing DeMarcus Ware along with himself as someone who might reach that goal.
So in closing, I think we can reasonably expect another above average (compared to other defensive ends in the league) season for Jared Allen. Expect him to play at a high level in every game, make some big plays, and land somewhere in the 15-20 range where sacks are concerned.
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