Absolutely, Jared Allen said.
And he’s absolutely right.
“Absolutely, I think the Bears are closer to winning a Super Bowl than people think,’’ Allen said, and yeah, it’s true because of Allen.
Because free-agent defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young won’t have to be Allen.
Because Shea McClellin won’t have to be whatever that was.
Because the Bears have a big-boy pass rusher.
When the Bears introduced Allen at Halas Hall on Monday, the Bears introduced an actual pass rush.
No, wait, they introduced the most important part of a big-boy defense.
Allen is a pure pass rusher. A Hall of Fame pass rusher. He has recorded double-digits sacks in each of the last seven years and nearly set the single-season mark. He makes everything better because he makes everybody else better.
The defensive linemen the Bears signed before Allen? The ones who had fewer sacks than the inert Julius Peppers and the disastrous McClellin?
Allen makes them better by allowing the coaches to put them in a position to succeed.
Houston and Young aren’t Allen. But they would’ve been asked to be that kind of guy. It would have been a different kind of awful for a Bears defense that defined awful last season.
Allen changes that. Allen makes the Bears defense look smart and good the way it did when Peppers actually wanted to play every game.
Hearing the excitement in Allen’s voice as he talked about the Bears' defense made me want the season to start. Now. Let’s go.
Allen talked up every good player -- stay seated, Chris Conte -- and recounted how vexed he felt as a Viking.
Charles Tillman is just going to punch balls loose, Allen said. Tim Jennings is just going to pick off passes. That’s the way it was and that’s the way it will continue to be, judging by Allen’s energized speech pattern that rivals his motor.
Houston and Young drew a scouting report from Allen. Houston is unfairly unknown because he played in Oakland and the Raiders stink, while Young is a long guy with a lot of upside.
Tell you what, Phil Emery ought to let Allen be his speechwriter at these things. Allen made the predictable positive comments sound sincere.
Jay Ratliff came in for special treatment. Allen raved about playing on a line with a defensive tackle as accomplished as Ratliff, even if he accomplished little as a Bear.
Another thing: Allen didn’t just pump up his new teammates, but the pass rusher with double-digit sacks the last seven seasons made it clear he knows how the scheme has to work.
“I come from a long line of people thinking you have to earn the right to rush the passer,’’ Allen said, and again, he was so infectiously positive that I forgot momentarily that the Bears' run defense was historically bad.
Allen was so effusive about playing for the Bears that one of the first things he raved about was the offense.
“I’ve played against this offense enough to know it’s potent and deadly,’’ Allen said.
The Bears still need help on the defense. Linebackers. Safeties. Cornerbacks. But Allen will deodorize a lot of it.
In fact, he might even make defensive coordinator Mel Tucker look like he can coach, even as Allen turns 32 on Thursday, prompting questions about the number of snaps he can take.
“You know how you bring the number of snaps down?’’ Allen asked. “Get off the field.’’
What a good idea for last season. Make sure you tell that to Tucker. His unit struggled with that concept. If that happens again -- wait, no, it can’t happen again.
Emery took a series of expensive steps to ensure that it won’t happen again. He started up front and kept pounding on the defensive line that every opponent pounded on last year.
Allen was the final piece and the biggest name. That’s how it works with stars, right?
And now everybody should be slotted properly on the defensive line. The Pro Bowl defensive end made it so and made Super Bowl thoughts legitimate.
Which is why the Bears’ next big announcement ought to be they’re selling concert T-shirts for the “Mel Tucker’s Out of Excuses Tour.’’