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Line coach Karl Dunbar, Bears' Jared Allen put their friendship on hold during game week

Jets' defensive line coach Karl Dunbar during NFL

Jets' defensive line coach Karl Dunbar during NFL football training camp in Cortland, N.Y., Thursday, July 31, 2014. Credit: Hans Pennink

"Hey, man. Talk to you after the game."

Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar sent that text message Monday.

Later, his cellphone buzzed with a response.

"Cool."

That one-word reply from Bears defensive end Jared Allen was all Dunbar needed.

The two have been close for years. But longstanding friendships fall by the wayside during game week.

"This is war right here. This is it," Dunbar said, smiling, as he sat in the Jets' cafeteria Friday afternoon.

If there's anyone who knows what Geno Smith and the Jets' offense will be facing Monday night against the Chicago Bears, it's Dunbar, who held the same position in Minnesota from 2006-11. During that time, Allen made three Pro Bowl appearances.

Allen, 32, is older now, of course. But the All-Pro defensive end still is the same guy at heart, and just as relentless when it comes to getting after quarterbacks.

And the key to stopping him, or any other elite pass rusher, is simple.

"The Jared Allen antidote. The Muhammad Wilkerson antidote. The Lawrence Taylor antidote. Quarterback, get the ball out of your hand quick," Dunbar said. "That's the antidote for great pass rushers."

Allen -- a five-time Pro Bowler entering his first season with the Bears -- has had double-digit sacks every year since 2007. And it's not by accident.

A lot of players have talent, but Allen has always been a student of the game. During his Minnesota days, he would show up at the Vikings' facility every Tuesday, armed with questions for Dunbar. His objective was the same each week: finding the "chinks in your armor," Dunbar explained, and figuring out what certain blockers hate and what they can't do.

"And as a coach, that keeps you on your toes when you've got guys studying film," Dunbar said of Allen, who signed a four-year, $32-million free-agent deal with the Bears in March after spending six seasons with Minnesota.

No longer is Allen the focal point of his team's defensive front, though. He's now one of several "marquee guys with great resumes," along with Jeremiah Ratliff and Lamarr Houston, Jets guard Willie Colon said.

"They're athletic. Obviously, they've got a lot of veteran guys and they're experienced," Colon said. "For us, it's just about us getting after it. We're home. We've got to have it coming off a tough loss."

Although the Jets' pride was hurt after last week's loss in Green Bay, the Bears are coming off an emotional high after earning their first win in San Francisco since 1985. Allen contributed a hit on quarterback Colin Kaepernick that forced a fumble that was recovered by the Bears.

Allen, an 11-year veteran, is determined to change the culture in Chicago and create a new identity for a Bears defense that was dead last against the run (161.4 rushing yards per game) in 2013. And though he may not be as fierce and as fast as he once was, he's still got it, Colon said.

"He's still Jared Allen to me," he said. "He makes explosive plays and you can tell he's a leader for those guys out there."

That's what Dunbar always respected about him. Allen was the consummate "gym rat," the guy who always "came early and stayed late."

And their weekly check-ins with one another -- via phone call or text message -- are a testament to the friendship they forged many years ago.

Dunbar spoke to Allen -- whose wife, Amy, is pregnant with their second child -- during training camp, and the pair chatted before the Bears' first game against the Bills.

"The only time we don't talk is when we're playing each other," Dunbar said.

And this week is no exception.

"We'll see each other after the game and that'll be it," Dunbar said.

"He knows that I'm going to tell our O-line what he does and everything he doesn't like to do -- and I know he's going to tell their O-line all the calls we have and how we try to set things up.

"So that's the fun part about it."

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