Jared Allen should help Lamarr Houston rack up sacks this year
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter June 8, 2014 8:21PM
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Updated: June 8, 2014 9:29PM
Defensive end Lamarr Houston was the Bears’ big free-agent signing until he wasn’t. The arrival of charismatic Jared Allen — a four-time All-Pro end and the 2011 NFC defensive player of the year — tends to overshadow others.
But Houston doesn’t mind the Robin role to Allen’s Batman. They can still be a dynamic duo.
“It’s amazing, just amazing,” Houston said of playing with Allen after organized team activities last week. “It’s a good move by [general manager Phil Emery], coach [Marc Trestman] and an organization that wants to win.
“They went out and grabbed everybody they needed. It’s a good thing. It’s even better for me to get to learn from somebody like that.”
Allen’s track record says that Houston could be looking at his best season yet when it comes to sacks. The evidence: the success of Brian Robison and Ray Edwards.
Robison had nine sacks in 2013, 81/2 in 2012 and eight in 2011 as the starter opposite Allen. Before Robison, Edwards, a fourth-round pick in 2006 who is out of the league, had the best seasons of his career: eight sacks in 2010, 81/2 in 2009 and five in 2008.
The basis for some of their success is simple. Allen receives more attention from opposing offenses, leaving the opposite end with more one-on-one opportunities.
“When you play against Jared, you have to make sure you have the proper protection plan,” Trestman said earlier this offseason. “You’re focused during the week on making sure that you’re doing the best you can in preventing him from getting to the passer. That’s what difference-makers do.”
Julius Peppers made a similar impact for Israel Idonije (career-best eight sacks in 2010). But Allen also had 56½ sacks to Peppers’ 37½ over the last four seasons, while the Vikings totaled 166 sacks to the Bears’ 139.
Idonije and Corey Wootton combined for 14½ sacks in 2012, but in the same season, Robison and backup Everson Griffen totaled 16½. Last year, Wootton and Shea McClellin combined for seven sacks as the primary ends opposite Peppers.
Signed two weeks before Allen, Houston is known for his run-stopping prowess, but he led the Raiders the last two seasons with four and six sacks.
Houston, who also will play tackle, believes he’ll get more sacks thanks to Allen. The Bears are hoping so, too, after finishing last in sacks in 2013.
“He’s Jared Allen,’’ Houston said. ‘‘I suspect that everybody is going to be ready to key [on] him.”
Allen has stressed the importance of learning how to play with Houston and other linemen. If last week’s dust-up against the first-team offense is any indication, Houston and Allen already know how to rattle opponents together.
“We’ll develop a great chemistry,” Houston said. “He has the most knowledge of football right now. The guy has had 45 sacks in three years. You can’t ask for more than that.
‘‘Just to be able to sit with him every day, talk about football and understand different things about the game, it’s a blessing.”