The Bears’ pass rush has gotten better one step at a time. Literally. And some of the credit goes to a player, ironically perhaps, who was traded away in part because of shortcomings in that part of his game.
Jared Allen was traded last week to the Carolina Panthers after starting three games for the Bears and collecting not even one sack. Before his nightmarish (5.5 sacks) 2014 season Allen had gone three straight games without a sack only four times in a career dating back to 2004.
But Allen’s influence has stayed behind even as he plies his trade for Ron Rivera in Carolina.
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Jarvis Jenkins, typecast as a run-control defensive end at 315 pounds in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme, has had three sacks in the last two games, two of Russell Wilson in the Seattle game and the other last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
Jenkins and linebacker Pernell McPhee sought Allen out during this offseason to glean rush ideas from an edge rusher who stands ninth all-time in sacks with 134.
Allen’s key, for Jenkins was, “just getting off the ball,” Jenkins recalled on Wednesday. “When Jared Allen was here, he preached that first step. I asked him back in the spring how he was so successful as a pass rusher. He said the get-off was really key. You’ve got to get into the offensive linemen before they get into you. If you get them back on their heels, that’s where you work your other stuff. If you don’t get them on their heels, then you’re a step back.
“The main thing I’m focusing on is getting that first step in the ground so I can get in the backfield a little quicker.”
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“Get-off” was the first of three parts in former coordinator Rod Marinelli’s rush methodology. Besides working on explosiveness, stance and angles, Jenkins is among those using film study to enhance anticipation of plays.
“If you know it’s a pass, you can get off a little quicker,” Jenkins said. “If you don’t know if it’s a pass or run, you can’t really react as fast as you want to. It all comes from film study and knowing what you’re going to get.”