Pass Rushing With Jared Allen

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When you see a 6'6" 270-pound grown man rocking a mullet with 15 1/2 racing stripes shaved into the sides, you probably think 80's rock band, not punishing pass rusher. But this guy, the one responsible for bringing back the Camaro Cut, was the NFL's 2007 sack leader for the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Although Jared Allen's mullet doesn't mean much, the racing stripes do. They represent the number of times opposing QBs have felt the wrath of his intense harassment. "I had a bet with my financial advisor for who could have the best mullet by April 15 [2008]," Allen says. "Then Dustin Colquitt, our punter, told me to put a line in my head, a new racing stripe, for every sack I get. So that's what the lines are for."

Getting to NFL quarterbacks requires a nonstop motor and flawless technique, both of which have helped this fourth-round pick earn his first Pro Bowl selection. "A lot of pass rushing is a mentality—a never-give-up attitude, relentless, do-what-it-takes-to-get-to-the-quarterback," Allen says. "After I get my mind set, I go through my stance and make sure I'm where I want to be to try and dictate his [offensive lineman's] movement."

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When you see a 6'6" 270-pound grown man rocking a mullet with 15 1/2 racing stripes shaved into the sides, you probably think 80's rock band, not punishing pass rusher. But this guy, the one responsible for bringing back the Camaro Cut, was the NFL's 2007 sack leader for the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Although Jared Allen's mullet doesn't mean much, the racing stripes do. They represent the number of times opposing QBs have felt the wrath of his intense harassment. "I had a bet with my financial advisor for who could have the best mullet by April 15 [2008]," Allen says. "Then Dustin Colquitt, our punter, told me to put a line in my head, a new racing stripe, for every sack I get. So that's what the lines are for."

Even without the crazy hair, Allen perfectly fits the profile of an intimidating quarterback killer. Over the past four seasons, he's wreaked havoc on opposing backfields, culminating in his league-leading 15.5 sacks in 2007. While playing for Idaho State, Allen was the most prolific pass rusher in Division I-AA, scoring the 2003 Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the nation.

Getting to NFL quarterbacks requires a nonstop motor and flawless technique, both of which have helped this fourth-round pick earn his first Pro Bowl selection. "A lot of pass rushing is a mentality—a never-give-up attitude, relentless, do-what-it-takes-to-get-to-the-quarterback," Allen says. "After I get my mind set, I go through my stance and make sure I'm where I want to be to try and dictate his [offensive lineman's] movement."

Allen's mentality has worked close to perfectly, but he also uses an arsenal of rushes to dominate opponents. Most young defensive ends have the killer instinct and proper technique, but they lack a variety of moves to reach the QB, which hinders them against better competition. "You can't be just locked in on one move," Allen explains. "Once you go, you have to react to what the offensive lineman gives you. You might have an idea of what you want to start with—like I'm going to set this guy up for a Speed Rush—but then [the lineman] sees that you're going to speed rush him, so he's going to jump out to stop you. So, by your third step, you need the mindset to use a variation of the speed rush or another move to counter back inside him."

Once you have technique and rushing options, you need to get to the quarterback before he throws the ball. "In high school, you have about five to seven yards to beat your offensive tackle and about four seconds to get to the quarterback," Allen explains. "In the NFL, we have 2.25 seconds. So on your third step, you really have to know what you're doing to get to the quarterback on time."

Check out the following rules Allen offers for the perfect rush, as well as the moves he has in his stash. Perfect them this off-season, and you might be able to match the racing stripes on Allen's dome when you strap it up next season.

Allen's Rules for the Rush

General
• Angle your hips toward the QB. Wherever your hips are going, you're going
• With all rushes, it is imperative to gain as much ground as possible with your first step
• Make sure you make contact with the tackle by your third step

Alignment
• Get as close to the line of scrimmage as possible without being off-sides
• Align 1½ to 2 yards outside of tackle
• Angle body toward where the QB will be on his drop

Stance
• Place ball-side leg back and other leg forward
• Keep feet shoulder-width apart
• Place weight on front foot
• Put ball-side hand on ground

Allen's Arsenal
Read the way the tackle sits on you after the snap before determining what type of rush will be most effective. Realize that rushing isn't a perfect science and doesn't always go as planned. So if contact is made before your third step, you have to react to the situation.

Speed Rush
Use when the tackle sets to your inside.
• Assume proper stance and alignment
• When ball is snapped, explode out of stance, stepping forward with ball-side leg
• Take second step; then on third step, plant ball-side foot and lower body while ripping and driving ball-side arm up through tackle
• Rip down with ball-side arm and throw outside arm around tackle
• Step with outside foot to square hips toward QB
Variation: Instead of throwing outside arm around tackle, use both hands to grab and throw the tackle's arms off you
Allen's advice: Throw your outside arm like you're swinging at somebody. Make sure you're constantly moving toward the quarterback.

Hump Rush
Use when the tackle sets to your outside.
• Repeat first three steps of Speed Rush
• Grab back of tackle's shoulder with offhand and pull him away from ball, while simultaneously using ball-side hand to push him across your face
Allen's advice: Place your-ball side hand on the tackle's chest after the rip. Explosively push with your ball side hand and pull hard with your off-hand to go underneath the tackle.

Bull Rush
Use when the tackle sets directly at you.
• Assume proper stance and alignment
• When ball is snapped, explode out of stance, stepping forward with ballside leg
• Take second step; then on third step, plant ball-side foot and make contact with tackle, putting top of your helmet underneath his chin
• Place hands on tackle's chest and explosively drive him back into QB
Allen's advice: Perform this rush with maximum effort. There's not much technique to it, so make sure you never stop moving your feet, until the quarterback is on the ground.

Single-Hand Rush
Use when the tackle sets to your inside.
• Assume proper stance and alignment
• When ball is snapped, explode out of stance, stepping forward with ball-side leg; simultaneously extend ball side hand toward tackle's inside shoulder
• Take second step; when tackle extends outside hand to your outside shoulder, knock it down and out of way with outside hand
• Plant ball-side foot on third step and square hips toward QB
Allen's advice: Extending your ball-side hand protects your inside number, forcing the tackle to punch with his outside hand.

Double-Hand Rush
Use when the tackle sets to your inside.
• Assume proper stance and alignment
• When ball is snapped, explode out of stance, stepping forward with ball-side leg
• Take second step; when tackle extends his arms to your chest, use both arms in circular motion to knock them down and toward ball
• Plant ball-side foot on third step and square hips toward QB
Allen's advice: Always keep your hands above your waist so there are no wasted movements.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock