- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Naturally, Jared Allen's last six seasons playing at least eight games on an artificial surface in Minnesota leads to trepidation about whether he can get it done on the natural grass at Soldier Field.
General manager Phil Emery isn't worried. In fact, Emery barely blinked Monday once the topic was broached following Allen's introductory press conference.
"I think I saw the stat that he's had 27 sacks in his last 28 games on turf (maybe he meant grass?), so I'm not concerned," Emery said. "I think the surface doesn't really matter to him because of his high-level instincts, ability to rush the passer, his use of length, leverage, his toughness. He is a physical player and a high-motor player. So I don't think surface matters."
Allen's career numbers pretty much support Emery's assertion.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Allen racked up 66.5 of his 128.5 career sacks in 73 games on turf. Allen generated the rest of his sacks (62) on natural grass over a span of 84 games. So the difference in Allen's production between the surfaces would seem at least somewhat negligible.
Surely Allen also weighed the pros and cons of how he'd perform with the change in surfaces. After all, Allen mentioned taking on a meticulous approach throughout the process of free agency.
So will he get it done in Chicago?
"Just watch me play this year," Allen said. "I'm in good shape. I'm a full year now off of surgery on my shoulder. I want to believe in what I'm playing for and who I'm playing for, and that's why I'm here. I believe in the philosophy that the coaches are offering. I believe in the techniques that they're teaching, and I believe in the product they're putting on the field, and that's what gets me amped to go out and play. For me, football is simple. It's that mental preparation you put into it, is whether you're going to be successful or not, and when you love what you're doing and you firmly believe in the team and the people you're playing for, it makes it that much easier to just go out and you have fun."
Emery, meanwhile, addressed the same question about Allen's ability to still play at a high level shortly after the news conference. As a talent evaluator who has worked against Allen both in Chicago and in Kansas City, Emery has watched Allen's game evolve over the years to mitigate what he might be losing in terms of physical ability.
"He's a guy that really, not only through his athletic talent, but over time, has really learned to use his frame," Emery said. "He has tremendous length. He really knows how to use his hands, [has good] balance under contact as he's trying to trim the edge; incredible feel for location of the quarterback. Some guys can rush the passer, but can't finish consistently relative to their ability to get past the blocker. But he always knows where the quarterback is. He has a sixth sense for him."