The Los Angeles Chargers have a dynamic duo at quarterback and receiver.
How good is the combination of Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen?
Well, NFL.com’s Matt Harmon listed his top-10 quarterback-wide receiver duos of 2017. Not only did Rivers and Allen make the list, but they ranked No. 2 behind Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. Saints’ Drew Brees-Michael Thomas, Vikings’ Case Keenum-Adam Thielen, Chiefs’ Alex Smith-Tyreek Hill, Lions’ Matthew Stafford-Marvin Jones, Texans’ Deshaun Watson-DeAndre Hopkins, Rams’ Jared Goff-Robert Woods, Falcons’ Matt Ryan-Julio Jones and Seahawks’ Russell Wilson-Doug Baldwin were the remaining duos (in that order). Patriots’ Tom Brady and Brandin Cooks just missed the cut.
Here’s what Harmon had to say about the duo of Rives and Allen:
“Philip Rivers played like he was downright gleeful to have his top wide receiver back, and he helped Keenan Allen win Comeback Player of the Year. Allen — who missed all but one game in 2016 because of a torn ACL — quickly reestablished himself as one of the game’s premier route-runners this past season. Over half of his receptions (56 of 102) came on plays where he was wide open (that is, where there was at least 3 yards of separation when the ball arrived). Even when defenders attempted to get in his hip pocket, Allen quickly eluded them. Rivers had a 134.1 passer rating on throws to Allen after he was pressed at the line of scrimmage, leading all players with at least 25 total targets.”
2017 marked Rivers’ and Allen’s first full, 16-game season together. Allen, the Chargers’ third-round pick in 2013, played in 15 games as a rookie, and it wasn’t until Week 4 that he took over as the team’s No. 1 receiver. Altogether, he’s missed 26 games prior to this past season.
Rivers finished second in passing yards (4,415), and Allen finished third in receiving yards (1,393) and fourth in receptions (102). A year after leading the league in interceptions with 21, Rivers threw the fewest picks (10) since his 2009 campaign. Meanwhile, Allen finished with a league-high 36 receptions for 552 yards on third down and ranked third among wideouts with 512 yards after the catch, per ESPN’s Eric Williams. He mostly played in the slot, but he made an impact wherever he was lined up. Both players were named to the 2018 Pro Bowl (Rivers elected to sit out).
Overall, nobody is topping Roethlisberger and Brown. However, the duo of Ryan, who finished sixth in passing yards, and Jones, who finished second in receiving yards, should be ranked higher. Jones finished with just three receiving touchdowns, second-fewest of his career, which was one of the reasons why Harmon put them at No. 9. The Watson-Hopkins combination (No. 7) would have been higher if it weren’t for the injury to Watson that cost the 2017 first-round pick the final nine games of the season. Still, Hopkins finished fourth in receiving yards behind Allen. Watch out for them in 2018. Brees and Thomas have been consistently dangerous the past two seasons. They didn’t make the list, but keep an eye out for the Carson Wentz-Alshon Jeffery duo next season.