Jared Allen has played in the NFL for 12 seasons. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All Pro, and has led the league in sacks – twice.
And he’ll be the first to tell you: playing defense in the NFL has changed dramatically over the last decade.
“Oh, 100 percent,” the Panthers defensive end said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “You look at just the natural progression of my position. You hardly see the 285-pound defensive ends anymore. When I was in Kansas City, I remember I came out at 265 and they told me to gain weight. You don’t see too many under-center, seven-step-drops anymore. Not too many teams are running that ‘Marty Ball’ anymore – power football down your face 30 times a game. So the league has changed, offense has changed and the way you have to play defense to combat that has changed. And then you got so many different rules – where, what, why and how you can hit people. But as athletes, you adapt to it. You adapt to the rules, you make the best of it and you go out there and try to win football games.”
Allen has played for the Chiefs, Vikings and Bears. He was traded from Chicago to Carolina in September and said he loves playing an attacking style of defense.
“I’ve had my hand on the ground since (college),” Allen said. “I’ve been doing that my whole career, and to get back to it and has been a breath for fresh air. It’s just where I feel comfortable. It’s where I feel like I’m at my best.”
Allen said he was okay with being traded to Carolina, saying, “I truly believe things happen for a reason – and it didn’t hurt going from 0-3 to 3-0 and now sitting here at 9-0.”
The Panthers, of course, are one of three remaining unbeatens in the NFL. The winning has been a welcome change for the 33-year-old Allen, whose hunger hasn’t waned over the years; if anything, it’s only gotten stronger.
“I’ve been on a year-by-year (basis) for the last few years,” Allen said. “I try to take every year by itself and evaluate what I’ve done and where I’m at, how my body feels. Can I prepare for the following year? Do I have the same enthusiasm about the game? But yeah, winning is obviously contagious. You start having fun again. My last couple years in Minnesota were rough. We didn’t win too many games, and obviously Chicago, we didn’t win too many. I never planned on being on four teams, but here I am siting at 9-0, loving life, loving football. Hopefully we can continue this, win our division, do some damage in the playoffs and get where we want to get.”