With starting right guard Lance Louis facing a lengthy absence, Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday that — with all due respect –Jared Allen’s blindside hit on Louis that caused the injury was unnecessary.
”Jared Allen plays the game a certain way. He’s a good player in our league,”Smith said when asked if he thought the hit was unnecessary. ”But I think there’s some plays when you look at them again, you say, ‘Hey, we could have done without.’ I think our game can do without that play.”
Louis was injured on Antoine Winfield’s interception return in the third quarter of the Bears’ 28-10 victory over the Vikings on Sunday at Soldier Field. Louis was running toward the sideline to stop Winfield when Allen left his feet to deliver a hard block with his shoulder to an unsuspecting Louis’ shoulder and neck.
Replays showed that Louis’ left leg was planted in the turf when Allen struck. Louis suffered a knee injury, which was called a sprain after the game. On Monday, Louis was placed on injured reserve after an MRI revealed that he suffered a torn ACL, a league source told the Sun-Times.
There was no penalty called on the play, though it was away from the play and easy for officials to miss.
”We have an injured player based on that [play],” Smith said. ”I think we could have gotten a block a little differently. That’s about all I should probably say about it. I’m sure the league will look at it and give you an opinion on [whether it was necessary].”
Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije said Allen’s hit, while it might have been legal and unpenalized a few years ago, was over the line based on the NFL’s rule changes regarding contact on defenseless players.
”It wasn’t necessary,” Idonije said. ”There have been a number of rules put in the game now that you can’t hit a defenseless player. Lance clearly … his vision is downfield. Allen hits him on his blind side. At that point of the game, he could have easily shoulder to shoulder. He could have laid him out wit just using his hands to his chest.
”Lance is quick. He’s fast. But it’s not a situation where he was just blazing and [Allen] had to lay him out to make a saving play. He hit him that way because he chose to hit him that way.”
Allen is a well-regarded ”high-motor guy” whose whirling-dervish style is a big reason he’s one of the best pass rusher in the NFL –he led the league with 22.5 sacks last season. But Idonije suggested that Allen needs to tone down the viciousness of his mentality to adjust to the new reality –and rules — of the NFL.
”I wouldn’t say he should have known better. But the way you play has to adapt and has to adjust with the rules of the game. That’s just how it is,” Idonije said. ”You can’t do a three-man wedge anymore. When I started out, it was all three-man wedge. My job was to run down and break the three-man wedge. That contact was all helmet-to-helmet collisions. So they took it out of the league.
”The game adjusts. Coach draws up a new scheme. You have to change your approach and the way you play. As a player, if you’re that type of player, unfortunately you have to change the way you play. And that doesn’t mean you change who you are, your identity as a player. But you have to play within the rules.”