All Jared Allen ever wanted was to be worth his signing.
Since agreeing to a four-year deal with the Bears, the future Hall of Fame defensive end has said it over and over again: he never wanted to be seen as a misguided Bears addition.
“When I signed,” he said in June, “I wasn’t going to be that guy that wasn’t worth the money.”
Which brings an added element to Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, where Allen will be reunited with his former team for the first time. The Vikings decided he wasn’t worth re-signing, while the Bears are likely having doubts after he’s posted only 1 ½ sacks after inking the four-year, $32 million deal.
“It’s always more fun to beat your friends,” Allen said. “Then you get bragging rights. I’m looking forward to it. I think, just put the past nine games behind us and move forward and get started on something new and fresh and get ready to come home and play. ….
“So I’m just excited. The Vikings are the next ones on the list and it’s just going to be fun to play against guys that I spent so many years with.”
The emotional Allen might be exactly the spark the Bears need to avoid another slow start and ugly final score.
Marc Trestman, though, wouldn’t say if he’d let him address the team beforehand.
“That’s between our football team, it really is,” he said.
It would be a good time for redemption for Allen, whose sack total is 10 behind last season and on pace for, by far, the worst mark of his career. He’s never finished a season with fewer than 7 ½ sacks.
In six seasons in Minneapolis, Allen made four Pro Bowls and had three first-team All-Pro honors. In 2011, he posted 22 sacks, a half-sack short of Michael Strahan’s NFL record.
He finished with 85 ½ sacks in 96 games in purple.
“You know they’re going to have a plan for him,” defensive end Willie Young said. “They know what he’s capable of us — who knows, 100 of his sacks. They know what they’re getting into.”
Young had the thought at some point this week, when he was teasing Allen about playing his former team: he better have his teammate’s back if he expects the same treatment later this year.
“Absolutely,” Young said. “Because I’m gonna need him when we go to Detroit.”
While the team wants to make the Vikings a nameless, faceless, opponent — the Bears aren’t good enough to do anything else — Sunday’s game will be different. He’ll go against left tackle Matt Kalil, who, he joked, he wasn’t about to give a scouting report on in public. He’ll say hello to Everson Griffen, who Allen said has made him proud by taking over as a dominant defensive lineman. And he’ll chase around the new face of the franchise, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“We’ve played so much zone-read,” he said, “that I almost feel more comfortable playing zone-read.”
Still, the Bears need a win more than at any point in recent memory, and Allen has never, ever left Soldier Field victorious.
“There’s no magic formula,” he said. “They’re not going to be bring Superman to the door. We can’t go back in time and erase the nine games. We’ve got three wins right now — that stinks. But guess what? There’s seven games to play. And anything can happen in this league. You see it all the time.
“That’s why I say, if we lived and died by what the outside world thought of us, we’d cash in the chips now.
“But I believe we’re going through something prepare for something great.”