Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The pursuit of Jared Allen shows the difference between the champs and the Cowboys

The pursuit of free agent Jared Allen shows the distance between the Seattle Seahawks, the Dallas Cowboys and their expectations for the coming year.

The sack master defensive end, who’s coming off an 11.5 sack season in 2013, is reportedly considering three NFL teams to sign with, the champs, the Cowboys and an unnamed club. He could also pack up his ten-gallon hat and ride off into the sunset of retirement.

Seattle’s offer is reportedly for 2-years and $12 million, while no leaks have surfaced out of Dallas since the club signed Henry Melton to a one-year, $5 million deal with a club option for 3 more years for $24 million.

The Cowboys may be silent because they don’t have a free agent dime left to spend. Yes, they could mess around with their salary cap some more but it’s not like signing Allen at this stage in his career is going to turn the team into a Super Bowl contender. Even Jerry Jones has to see that.

Allen was supposed to take the weekend to decide which team to sign with (Seattle would be the big favourite) but has this far remained silent. Even on his Twitter account.

But really there’s no competition, even if the Cowboys could make a competitive bid.

Here’s what Seattle offers: A quality rotation that allows Allen to rest his nearly 32-year-old legs, pass-rushing balance up and down the line that allows him to face one-on-one situations more often, more three and outs than a Mariners game with King Felix on the mound, space shuttle-launching like noise for opposing linemen during the home campaign, and oh, yeah, a chance at a ring.

Dallas? Well he was born there. More playing time. More double teams. A more natural setting for his rodeo sack dance, the pink Cadillac with the longhorns. Plus his nickname is the Rhinestone Cowboy, not the Rhinestone Seahawk. Did I mention he was born there?

And that’s without taking the monetary equation into account.

Even after signing Melton, the pressing urgency for Dallas and its 32nd ranked defence will be generating a pass rush.

The Cowboys’ 34 sacks left them in a three-way tie for 25th in the NFL a year ago. And 17 of those, or exactly 50 per cent, went out the door when Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware left town.  

Many believe Ware was a diminished player last season and point to his career-low 6-sack total.

Yet despite elbow and quad injuries, missing three games, playing out of position at defensive end and being the lone focal point for double-teams and game planning by offensive co-ordinators, Ware, according to sportingcharts.comhttp://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/defensive-hurries/2013/ finished tied for seventh in the league in quarterback hurries with 16.

Jaren Allen tallied 9 hurries, same as Hatcher. George Selvie, who will undoubtedly have a harder time repeating his 7-sack campaign without Ware, was second on the club with 11.

Long-yardage sacks can be game changers, especially if forced fumbles are involved, but hurries often present a bigger picture of a pass rusher’s ability.

That’s because sacks is a fickle statistic.

Is a one-yard sack where a quarterback runs out of bounds the same as 15-yard loss on 3rd down? How about when a teammate pressures the quarterback, who then takes a few steps into the unsuspecting arms of another?

Many will know that Robert Mathis led the league with 19. 5 sacks but few will realize that the Vikings’ Brian Robison led the NFL with 27 hurries. Fellow Viking DE Everson Griffen added 13 (14th in the league), which is why Minnesota is somewhat comfortable letting Allen (tied for 40th) go as a free agent.

If Allen is considering playing for another contract or adding to his career sack totals, then the Cowboys could offer this edge: Substantial more opportunities. The Cowboys played more than 100 defensive snaps than the Seahawks last season, and there’s little chance Dallas will be getting off the field much faster in the upcoming campaign.
I know where I would go if I were Allen. It rhymes with cattle. 

The Seahawks are reloading, picking and choosing their gems while the Cowboys are at the Dollar store, hoping to scape enough funds to find a bargain.