I am, as all of you know, the world's foremost authority on most things Bears related. This is an undisputed fact according to the gremlins in my brain thing that handle such matters. However, Erik pointed out that in my last article I may have shot down the possibility of Phil Emery signing Jared Allen by saying the following:
Is Phil also probably aware that even with the new guys added and the
guy's re-signed from last year (Jay Ratliff, Nate Collins, DJ Williams,
Charles Tillman) the defense, while undoubtedly better, is still
probably far from good? Sure. Are there more bearded, real tree camo loving band-aids out
there who could get this defense in better shape for 2014 alone out
there? Absolutely. He's not going to go down that road, for several
Okay. I can see how some people have interpreted me saying the Bears wouldn't sign Jared Allen as me saying the Bears wouldn't sign Jared Allen. This is not unlike the people in December who were happy to point out that me saying "There's no way Aaron Rodgers will start against the Bears in week 17" might possibly be construed as indicating that Aaron Rodgers wouldn't start the last game of the season. I could see where, from a certain point of view, it would appear I have been wrong before.
Here's where I'm not wrong: This signing is a good thing. Four years, $32 million is a scary number for a 31 year old defensive end, but as anyone with a brain has noted, in reality this is a 2 year deal worth $15.5 million. Is that still more than Jared Allen in a perfect world is probably worth? Sure, but Emery has placed himself in a pretty good position that enabled him to spend some extra dough on a player who will actually be asked to do Less in Chicago than he was in Minnesota. The Bears found two starting caliber DEs in Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, and they'd probably be able to field a decent DL with Nate Collins, Jeremiah Ratliff, and Stephen Paea at DT. Allen wasn't a true "need", but Phil scraped together the money to make a push for him without breaking the bank or handicapping their long term future. The cap is set to go up even more next year and Allen's hit will be easily absorbed.
By adding Allen, Phil immediately upgraded this defensive line (and hopefully the entire defense by extension) from capable to downright dangerous. The Bears have talked all offseason long about their desire to be "multiple" on defense, and Allen as the 3rd DE allows them to do just that. In a base 4-3 they can rotate Allen, Houston, and Young at end and Collins, Paea, and Ratliff at either tackle position. In passing situations or 3rd down they can move Houston inside and put Allen, Houston, Ratliff, and Young, all proven pass-rushers, on the line. If they want to give a 3-4 look I can easily picture Allen in a two point stance across from Shea McClellin while Houston is more than big enough to set the edge as a five technique DE and Ratliff has proven himself in a 3-4 in the past. That's the kind of flexibility a defensive coordinator dreams of.
I don't expect Allen to step into Chicago and plow his way to 13 sacks next year. Odds are he has lost a step at 31, but in Chicago he's merely a piece of the puzzle, likely to play far fewer snaps than he did last year, and he can focus even more on being the pass-rush specialist he has always been at heart. Emery knew that Allen was a luxury, and he waited for the price to drop accordingly while he took care of the defense's other needs. Once he had his ducks in a row and could afford to splurge, well, he made his play and gave us all another reason to be excited for 2014. Go Bears.
Suck it, Cutler haters.