The Return of Keenan Allen
By Zach Pekale
After a stellar rookie season that saw him catch 71 balls, record 1,046 yards and score eight touchdowns, Keenan Allen took a big step back in his second year with the San Diego Chargers.
Many analysts in the National Football League give a player three seasons to make an impression before they are labeled. With a disappointing season behind him, the wide receiver burst back onto the scene in 2015. Allen recorded 67 catches, 725 yards and four touchdowns in only eight games.
In the midst of a breakout season, Allen’s year was cut short due to a lacerated kidney he suffered during a Week 8 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. At the time of his injury, Allen was second in the NFL in receptions, trailing only Julio Jones (70).
Nov 1, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; San Diego Chargers medical staff help wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) off the field after an injury during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The presence of Allen was greatly missed beyond just statistics. His versatility is dangerous as he is capable of playing outside or in the slot as well as his 6’2” frame and unique athleticism combining to make for a red-zone threat.
Returning for his fourth year with the Chargers, Allen is poised to explode this season.
Long-time Charger Malcolm Floyd hung up his cleats this offseason and Ladarius Green bolted for Pittsburgh. With these two departures and the addition of Travis Benjamin, Allen should expect to play more offensive downs on the outside and compete against some of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
Keenan Allen is gonna go bananas this year…
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) April 18, 2016
Additionally, Ken Whisenhunt is back as the offensive coordinator following a head coaching stint with the Tennessee Titans. Whisenhunt was Allen’s offensive coordinator when he was a rookie.
Nov 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
This season, the Chargers will play nine games against teams who finished in the bottom half of the league in pass defense. This bodes well for San Diego as they have established a pass-heavy offense while Melvin Gordon continues to develop.
With Phillip Rivers throwing a career-high 661 pass attempts in 2015, Allen should be salivating as the Chargers look to get back on track following a 4-12 season.
In a shortened season, Allen was remarkable for San Diego, despite going 2-6 with him on the field. A full season of Keenan Allen on a mission to finish what he started will be lethal.