Impact of Jared Allen on Panthers’ struggling pass rush
In a rare in-season trade, the Carolina Panthers acquired Bears OLB Jared Allen from Chicago on Monday.
What kind of impact can Allen have immediately on the NFC’s fourth-ranked defense?
Through Week 3, Allen owns a +1.8 overall grade, 11th among 3-4 outside linebackers. Traditionally, however, Allen has played 4-3 defensive end, where his best-graded season came in 2011 (+22.6, fifth-best in NFL).
2015 has been Allen’s first season at OLB, with the Bears’ 3-4 scheme forcing him into the role. In Carolina, however, he will likely return to his familiar 4-3 DE position.
Carolina hopes Allen will make an immediate impact to a struggling pass rush (ranked 22nd in the league through Week 3). He will most likely be replacing DE Charles Johnson, who is expected to miss four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Johnson is PFF’s 17th-ranked 4-3 DE through three weeks. What he has lacked in pass-rush productivity (4.8, fourth-lowest for 4-3 DEs), however, he has made up for in his run defense (+3.7, seventh-best in NFL at his position).
Panthers fans should quell any high expectations for the veteran Allen, however. In fact, the 2004 fourth-round draft pick hasn’t fared better than Johnson in the 4-3 defensive end role the last few seasons. In 2014 pass-rushing productivity, Allen finished at No. 19 in the NFL—Johnson came in at No. 4. 2013 showed much of the same story, with Allen at No. 28, Johnson at No. 5.
Allen’s best PFF-era stint came between 2007 and 2011, where he finished among the top eight 4-3 defensive ends four out of those five years. Since then, however, he’s been on a steady decline, with overall grades at No. 19 or lower.
The moral of the story? While a veteran presence is certainly a plus for a Panthers’ defense that has suffered some key injuries, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott shouldn’t expect Allen to dominate the pass-rush for Carolina anytime soon.