View Full Version : Chiefs Jonathan Rand: A Rare Commodity

Mr. Flopnuts
04-23-2008, 01:09 AM

A rare commodity
Apr 22, 2008, 2:02:42 AM by Jonathan Rand - FAQ

There are plenty of angles from which to view a possible Jared Allen trade, but from any angle thereís no dismissing how hard it would be to effectively replace the NFL sacks leader.

Among the 349 NFL players who recorded at least half a sack last season, Allen sat atop that list, with 15.5 sacks, despite sitting out the first two games under league suspension. Top pass rushers are among the NFLís rarest commodity, which is why Allen is seeking a huge, long-term contract and the Chiefs no doubt require a high payment in draft choices to part with their Pro Bowl defensive end.

The Chiefs made one of their more inspired picks ever when they took Allen in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. Despite starting just 10 of the 15 games in which he played as a rookie, he totaled nine sacks. Thatís two more than the top three defensive ends of the 2007 draft recorded as rookies.

Gaines Adams, the fourth overall pick by Tampa Bay, recorded six sacks. Jamaal Anderson, picked eighth overall by Atlanta, had none. Jarvis Moss, picked 17th overall by Denver, had one. So donít be quick to assume the Chiefs could easily dial up another elite pass rusher, perhaps by using the fifth overall pick for Vernon Gholston from Ohio State.

Why is finding a top pass rusher so difficult? The NFL has been staging something of an arms race in recent decades as teams keep trying to identify bigger, stronger and more nimble offensive tackles to neutralize bigger, stronger and quicker pass rushers. Though this matchup is as old as football, offensive coaches became alarmed in the eighties when they saw their blockers trying to cope with pass rushers whose size and speed seemed to originate from another planet.

So teams went looking for tackles who could match up with these monsters. Consequently, a top blocker or pass rusher today has to be an exceptional athlete and technician. Offensive tackles and pass rushers both are likely to claim they have the toughest jobs in football ó and maybe both of them are right.

If you canít protect and rush the passer, you canít win. There should be no argument about that.

We saw the Chiefsí league-leading offense fall apart when a line generally considered the best in the business began to fade. We saw the Giants pull a huge upset in the Super Bowl mainly because they mounted a pass rush that finally disrupted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Protecting and rushing the passer are such sophisticated skills that both put a premium on experience. Rookie pass rushers typically are frustrated when they try to get past tough and wily veteran tackles. Rookie pass blockers often get trampled by tough and wily veterans. Houstonís Mario Williams, the first overall pick in 2006, was generally derided as a bust because he totaled just 4.5 sacks as a rookie. He had 14 sacks last season and tied for third in the league.

The Chiefsí Cover-two base defense relies on the front four getting enough pressure on the quarterback to allow the other seven defenders to cover their areas. A big-time pass rusher, consequently, is a must for the Chiefs to continue their notable defensive progress.

Allen is a high-motor guy who pushes on every play. Itís one of the NFLís great mysteries why a defensive lineman gets special praise if he doesnít take plays off to catch his breath. Shouldnít everybody be giving his all every down? If you go by franchise-designation salaries, defensive ends are the leagueís third most highly paid players, behind quarterbacks and cornerbacks.

Allen, the Chiefs franchise player, would earn nearly $8.9 million this year should he not get a long-term deal with the Chiefs or another team. Any team is free to sign him if it gives the Chiefs two first-round picks. Because no team will do that, a trade is required to move Allen.

The Chiefs, presumably, are asking for a lot.