Football Team

Allen believes new deal is critical part of his hot start

Football Team

The thick contract extension that Jonathan Allen signed just before training camp hasn't just helped his pockets. In a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports Washington, Allen explained how the deal is also helping something else: his performance.

Through his team's first two contests of the season, the 26-year-old has been the club's best defender. Coach Ron Rivera called Allen's effort thus far "exceptionally good," a descriptor that his numbers — he's been credited for three sacks, six quarterback hits and four tackles for loss already — back up.

And when chatting with Finlay on Wednesday ahead of Washington's trip to Buffalo, Allen reflected on how knowing what his long-term future holds has benefitted his weekly production.

"For me, I think the biggest thing is not having this contract thing hanging over my head," Allen said when asked what's allowed him to start so strong in 2021. "I feel like last year, with the new scheme, new coaches, there were just a lot of things mentally I feel like were weighing me down. I feel like this year, that's out of the way, I can 100 percent focus on football."

Allen went on to state that a relaxed mind (or lack thereof), in his opinion, is often a "big key as to why players play great or they don't play great."

After the Burgundy and Gold beat the Giants last Thursday, Allen also praised the work that his fellow defensive linemen are doing. While they may not all be thriving like him — Montez Sweat, to his credit, is also consistently contributing, but Chase Young, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne are all still without a sack — Allen wanted the public to understand that taking down opposing passers is a group-based mission. 

 

On Wednesday, though, he was resolute in his belief that securing his second pro contract has freed him up to be more dominant. 

"I feel like this year mentally, I'm a lot more sharper, stronger and just reacting quicker," Allen said.

Now, even with all of his personal success, Allen's typical sternness returned when discussing how the defense is playing as a whole. The guy may be a lot richer and more comfortable away from the facility and stadium, yet that doesn't mean he's suddenly fine with subpar results. 

The list of things he wants his side of the ball to manage better is lengthy — "stopping the run, stopping the quarterback run, stopping explosive plays" are three areas he rapidly mentioned in the interview — but he's also confident that fixes and improvements are coming.

"They're all saying we suck," Allen said of the outside narrative surrounding Washington. "It doesn't matter what anybody else says. It's about what we do on the field, and we just have to lock in and focus, do the little things right, execute the game plan and we'll be fine.

"We're not going to jump off the ship," Allen added later.

Of course, there's no reason to plunge overboard just yet. The team's schedule includes 15 more outings and its roster features a host of talented options on defense. This hasn't been the opening most envisioned, yes, but the 2020 unit also stumbled early before finishing with standout stats.

Allen, plus his coaches and fans, too, would surely appreciate assistance steering the ship. Despite his undeniable effectiveness and clearer approach, Allen can't completely keep the vessel afloat on his own the rest of the way.