The 2020 receiver group played out a lot differently than I thought it would. In my preseason grades, the top five on the depth chart were Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, and Andre Patton. I mentioned Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson as guys who could end up being the sixth receiver, but had no idea just how large of a role they would play.
Jason Moore also ended up on the depth chart. He only ended up playing in two games though, so there’s not much to say about him relative to the group. The four wideouts I’ll be grading are Allen, Williams, Guyton, and Johnson. Hill and Reed will be discussed, but there wasn’t a significant enough sample size for me to critique and get into the nitty-gritty.
Statistically speaking, this wasn’t Keenan Allen’s best season. For me, it’s still one of his most impressive seasons though. Despite missing two games at the end of the season, Allen recorded 100 receptions for the third time in the last four years.
The quarterback position is why this season jumps off the page for me. Philip Rivers had been a huge constant in Allen’s career from the day he was drafted. Entering the season with a weird Tyrod Taylor/Justin Herbert quarterback group was much different than anything Allen had experienced in his NFL career.
A lot of the routes Allen runs are all about timing too. Having that type of a connection with Rivers for years is just something that’s incredibly hard to replace. Unlike a steady connection that’s developed over the course of seven years, Herbert was chucked into the second game of the season due to a medical emergency.
Allen converted the most first downs in the league off of short throws with 28. He’s always been Mr. Third Down for the Chargers, but that role seemed to be increased this year in general. Despite playing one game with Taylor and 15 games with a rookie, Allen was still top 10 in the NFL in the fewest drops.
The difference between this year and any other Allen year was the heavy lifting that he had to do on the offense. He had to help in developing a rookie quarterback, play with an almost entirely new group of receivers outside of Williams, and still find a way to get to 100 receptions with the team needing him.
Check, check, and check. We may not remember 2020 as the best Allen season 10 years from now with how brutal it was for the Chargers at times. We should remember everything Allen did in making this offense look a lot cleaner than it should’ve.