It's pass-rusher musical chairs in the NFC North! With Wednesday's four-year, $32 million free agency contract, Jared Allen is leaving the Minnesota Vikings for the Chicago Bears. This, of course, comes a few weeks after the Bears released Julius Peppers, who went on to sign a three-year, $30 million deal with the rival Green Bay Packers.
Bears and Packers ... Ah, yes -- the very two teams that waged a de facto NFC North title game in Week 17 of last season. The question is, who made out better in this merry-go-round of veteran D-linemen? More specifically, who will make a bigger impact in 2014: Jared Allen or Julius Peppers?
Allen has more to offer as a situational pass rusherThe Bears made out better here -- no question. Julius Peppers is a possible Hall of Famer, and he has always been regarded as a premier defensive end in pro football. Peppers has been treated with more respect than Jared Allen because of his athleticism, and perhaps in small part because of Allen's zany nature. Yet, there can be no disputing the fact that Allen is -- and always has been -- better at getting to the quarterback. And while Chicago sucked at stopping anyone from running the football last year, much of that was due to injuries.
Every team needs a situational guy who can get to the quarterback 10-plus times in a season. I don't see Peppers reaching that plateau, nor do I see him being as effective as the mulleted one (who's more than two years younger). Don't get me wrong: Both were smart signings, but I like the Allen acquisition better today.
Peppers will feast on one-on-one blocking, return to Pro Bowl formHistory (and age) would suggest that Jared Allen would have a bigger impact with his new team than Julius Peppers, but I believe Peppers is in a better position to make disruptive plays in Green Bay. The explosive nature of the Packers' offense should give the defense plenty of chances to attack against opponents forced into catch-up mode. With Clay Matthews likely receiving the majority of attention from the offense, Peppers will see one-on-one blocking for the first time in his career. Despite losing a step, he remains a dynamic athlete capable of winning off the edge.
I expect Peppers, given better opportunities to wreak havoc in 2014, will flash his previous Pro Bowl form in Green Bay.
Both guys are set up for success in 2014I'm up for most any debate, but once in a while, "both of the above" is the right way to go. (See: Brady vs. Peyton, In-N-Out vs. Five Guys, The Godfather vs. Goodfellas.)
The simple -- and probably correct -- answer is Jared Allen, based solely on the fact he's two-plus years younger than Julius Peppers. But both guys still seem to have something left in the tank (witness Allen's 11.5 and Peppers' seven sacks in 2013) and both guys have landed in places where they'll be set up for situational success. Peppers won't be the primary focus of opponents' pass-protection plans so long as Clay Matthews is on the field. Likewise, Allen will face less resistance on his way to the QB, as O-lines contend with the presumed pressure Lamarr Houston will bring.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna eat some burgers while I watch a couple gangster movies.
Allen's signing packs a bigger punch in the playoff raceChicago's addition of Jared Allen, along with fellow free agents Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, signals an admission by the Bears' brass that their secondary hasn't been upgraded so they had better get after the quarterback. Allen's 2013 game tape shows he still has a few years left, while Julius Peppers was stop-and-go last season.
Peppers might find rejuvenation playing multiple positions in Green Bay, but he won't have the impact Allen will on the Bears' playoff chances. It's imperative that Chicago's front improves upon a disastrous 2013 campaign. As long as the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, they always have a chance to win the division.
Both can be effective -- if kept on a snap countIs it possible that both the Bears and the Packers won this? Allen and Peppers are not what they used to be in their younger days, of course, but even slightly diminished pass rushers can be effective, especially if they are used on a limited basis. Allen has one of the highest motors of any player in the NFL, and as the Bears retool the defense the way Mel Tucker wants it, Allen will be a strong influence on younger players.
The big loser: the Vikings, who now get to face Ndamukong Suh, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers six times a year.