We'll file that headline under the "stuff we already knew" category, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to state the obvious. We've had a couple of different sources confirm this, however, so I thought it would be good to share with everybody.
First of all, the ratings for the upcoming Madden '11 game have been leaked, via the folks at GoMadden.com. The highest a player can be rated in Madden is a 99. This year, only six players got that distinction. . .and Jared Allen was one of those six. The other five were Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, QB Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, CB Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets, and MLB Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers.
Other Vikings that rate in the top ten at their positions, according to the rankings, are Adrian Peterson (98 rating, No. 2 RB), Bryant McKinnie (90, No. 8 LOT), Steve Hutchinson (97, No. 1 LG), Kevin Williams (97, No. 1 DT), Ray Edwards (85, No. 8 LDE), Chad Greenway (88, No. 6 ROLB), and Ryan Longwell (92, No. 4 K). Oh, and that Brett Favre fellow (92, No. 4 QB).
So, yes, the Minnesota Vikings are one of the best and most talented teams in the league, and Jared Allen is one of its best players. Again, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. . .but it's nice to highlight stuff like this.But the folks over at Cold, Hard Football Facts have put Allen up on an even higher pedestal, declaring him to be the best non-QB player in the entire National Football League. They make this declaration based on a stat they call the Defensive Hog Index, which measures each defense in three key areas. . .their ability to stop the run, their ability to force negative pass plays (both sacks and INTs), and their ability to get off the field on third down.
Allen's impact was felt not only on the Vikings, which we obviously saw from the first time he stepped on the field in purple and gold, but it's possible that it was felt even more so by the Kansas City Chiefs, the team the Vikings dealt a first-round pick and two third-round picks to in order to acquire Allen's services.
By 2007, the Kansas City defense had improved dramatically, to the point that the stoppers carried the team despite a poor offense. Allen was a dominant defensive end in 2007 – league leading 15.5 sacks – and the Chiefs were a dominant group of Defensive Hogs: No. 5 overall on our Defensive Hog Index and the NFL’s best defense on third downs.Then Allen was traded to Minnesota in 2008: the Vikings instantly went from a one-dimensional group of great run stoppers to a group of Defensive Hogs dominant in all phases of the game. They remained a dominant group in 2009.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, have imploded in the wake of the Allen departure. A dominant defensive front in 2007, the Chiefs fielded one of the worst defensive lines in memory 2008. They barely improved in 2009.
To wit, in 2007. . .Allen's last year in Kansas City. . .the Chiefs were fifth overall in the Defensive Hog Index, as listed above. This happened because they were No. 24 against the run (4.34 yards/attempt), No. 6 in forcing negative pass plays (10.22%), and the best in the league in third-down defense (31.3%). In 2008, after Allen left, they went all the way to dead last in the league in the Defensive Hog Index, finishing second to last in run defense (5.0 yards/attempt), last in forcing negative pass plays (4.3%), and second to last on third down (47.4%). So the loss of Jared Allen almost single-handedly caused the entire Kansas City defense to fall apart.
On the other hand, we've all watched Minnesota's defense flourish with No. 69 lining up at right defensive end. Here is a comparison of how the Vikings fared in the Defensive Hog Index in 2007 without Allen, and how they've done in 2008 and 2009 with him.
|Defensive Hog Index Ranking||14th||4th||3rd|
|Rush Defense||2nd (3.13 YPA)||2nd (3.31 YPA)||6th (3.89 YPA)|
|Negative Pass Plays||24th (7.75%)||8th (9.9%)||9th (9.97%)|
|Third Down Defense||18th (40.2%)||4th (33.5%)||3rd (34.5%)|
It also helps to keep in mind that Allen's greatest impact came in Minnesota's two games against the Green Bay Packers, the games that ultimately decided the NFC North and helped the Vikings to gain the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoffs. As Allen has become accustomed to doing, he registered 4.5 sacks and a safety in Minnesota's 30-23 victory over Green Bay in Week Four, and tacked on three more in the Vikings' 38-26 win over the Packers in Week Eight.
Is Jared Allen the biggest impact player in the league? Or, at least, the biggest impact player that doesn't play quarterback? After seeing these sorts of numbers, it's awfully hard to argue in favor of anyone else, in my opinion.