The question that will not go away until sometime between next September and January, and maybe not even then, is what if anything Jared Allen at age 32 still has in his pass-rushing tank at defensive right end.
The Bears’ greatest pass rusher of all time, who played the exact same position, does not share any of those concerns.
“I definitely think [Allen] still has something,” said Richard Dent, tied for No. 7 all-time in sacks with 137.5, of which came 34 came in the 68 games he played at 32 and older. “Jared is still keeping his body weight down and that’s an important thing.
“You’re going to gain weight and it’s either going to be muscle or fat, one of the two. That’s the truth. You have to be aware of your lifestyle. And Jared definitely seems to be.”
Dent, whole holds the Bears’ franchise-record of 124.5., stood 6-5 played in the 263-268 weight range, occasionally as much as the generally listed 270 of Allen, who stands 6-6.
Dent, elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011, can speak with authority on the subject of age and tank capacities. He posted 8.5 in 1992 at age 32, then rang up 12.5 in ’93 at age 33 on his way to a fourth Pro Bowl. He and the Bears parted company after that season and Dent was signed by the San Francisco 49ers, who went to and won Super Bowl XXIX but with Dent on IR with a knee injury.
To the bigger point, Dent finished his career with 11 sacks over his final two seasons as a situational player, with 6.5 sacks for the Indianapolis Colts in 1996 at age 36 and 4.5 for Philadelphia at age 37. The 6.5 led the Colts, a wild-card finisher in the then-AFC East.
Students of the game
Twenty years after Dent’s 12.5-sack season at age 33, Allen is a precise echo of what Dent believed to be the foundation of it all:
“For me, football is simple,” Allen said. “It’s that mental preparation you put into it, is whether you’re going to be successful or not.”
Sound familiar? It should.
“You just have to be smarter about what you’re doing,” Dent said. “People can’t show you something that you haven’t seen, if you’re a student of the game. When you’re a student, I don’t play like [a maniac]. When you see certain formations, you already know what’s going on.
“I don’t have to burn at 100 miles an hour. I can go 70-80 percent and look like I’m going 100, because I know what’s about to happen and I’m going to be there.
“Some people just do the same thing over and over, same speed, all-out, and at some point you’re just going to run out of gas. You have to work on a guy’s weakness. People think, “Oh, he’s taking plays off.’ No. I’m working on a man’s weakness, setting him up and when it’s time, you destroy that weakness.”