Anyone here who has ever read my stuff for any amount of time knows I loves me some Jared Allen. I was steadfastly against the idea of trading him away for what would admittedly have been a bounty this offseason. Honestly, if I were allowed (work and all), I'd probably grow a mullet just because he says it's the right thing to do.
That said... he's really been letting me down lately. I was OK with the complete absence in the Jaguars game, but I was shocked that the Colt's patchwork O-line held him without a sack. He may have finally gotten that next notch in his belt last week against the 49ers, but let's face it, the idea of him taking the record this season is pretty much impossible at this point.
Of course, he's just one player. Overall our pass rush I suppose has been decent. And the D-line did an awesome job against a top-tier runner last week in Frank Gore, and in general even without sacks, they are getting pressure on the QBs.
Well... it's time for Jared Allen, and the rest of that line, to go from pressure right up to sacks. This week we face the Detroit Lions, our first divisional game of the year. This game means a LOT for a LOT of reasons: can we keep our momentum from last week's insane upset going? Can we snap our divisional winless streak? And more importantly, can we join Green Bay in being 1-0 in the division? Because let's face it... while we're up one game on them, we're going to need all the ammo we can get to make it to the playoffs. And beating the Lions this week would be a MAJOR boost in that department.
Right now Matthew Stafford is nursing a hammy injury. I don't know how serious it is (nobody does, as Jim Schwartz isn't saying a peep) but he was not at practice today. Most people think he will play regardless, and I tend to agree: this isn't a Michael Vick style running QB here, he can probably play through a tweaked hamstring.
We can take some major advantage of that if the pass rush picks up, Jared Allen in particular. Allen's strength has never been elite speed: if a QB sees him coming in time, they often have a decent chance of scampering away to relative safety. If Stafford has a bum leg, however...
The Lions O-line isn't great. I'm going to avoid making any big statements here about that, however, as they're a lot better really than the Colts O-line we faced, and we didn't do that great against them. That said, a lot of credit had to be given to Luck for his ability to avoid hits, and he showed off his underrated legs in that. Stafford apparently won't have that ability. And therein lies the key to victory: beat the crap out of Matthew Stafford.
The Lions don't have a very good running game and their secondary is arguably even weaker than ours. Their front 7 are a pretty vicious lot, but if we play the game like we did against the 49ers- sprinkling in some liberal AP to keep the defense honest- I think we have a relatively good chance of negating that strength. But if Stafford is bombing away to Megatron, we might be in a bit of trouble, as I don't think we have a CB on our roster who can genuinely cover that guy up. (I'm not really sure there are any NFL teams that have a CB on their roster who can genuinely cover that guy up.) We can handle that by getting into Stafford's face, putting him on his back, and rinse-and-repeat.
But only if Jared Allen and co. pick it up a little bit. In my humble opinion/ prediction, our fortunes in this upcoming game depend on their success.