Keenan Allen: San Diego Chargers Team Leader?

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

San Diego Chargers rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen was called for a penalty on Sunday for taunting a Miami Dolphins cornerback. Many Chargers fans complained about it, but I see the positives in Allen's overconfidence.

Coming out of the locker room at halftime, the San Diego Chargers were tied 10-10 with the Miami Dolphins. Neither team was playing poorly, but both seemed to be lacking a spark.

Here's how the Chargers, who received the kickoff to start the half, called their plays to start the 3rd quarter:

  • Ryan Mathews run (1 yd)
  • Keenan Allen catch (17 yds)
  • Incomplete pass (Keenan Allen targeted)
  • Incomplete pass (Antonio Gates targeted)
  • Keenan Allen catch (15 yds)
  • Ryan Mathews run (-10 yds on holding penalty)
  • Keenan Allen catch (13 yds)

Allen finished the game with 6 targets, and picked 4 of them on this short drive. When the team needed a spark, they went to him and he responded with 3 catches for 45 yards in a matter of 7 plays.

Unfortunately, after the 13 yard catch, Allen picked up a 15 yard penalty for taunting (which didn't really do anything that an incomplete pass wouldn't have done). The penalty was called because Keenan said something to the cornerback that was playing man coverage against him on the play, something that pretty much every WR in the league does on a regular basis. If you look at the image at the top of this post, you'll see Allen talking trash to a Broncos linebacker a week before. There was no flag then.

Trash talk is simply a part of the game. Throwing the ball at someone is going too far, but bragging a bit after a big play should not get a flag. How is what Allen did any different than a sack dance or doing the "first down" motion after the catch? Because it was directed at an individual? Give me a break.

If there's one thing the Chargers have missed quite a bit in recent years, it's swagger. Philip Rivers may be the heart and the leader, and Antonio Gates may lead by fantastic example, but each team needs a few guys that are brimming with confidence (or overconfidence) all the time. Guys that will step up and say "GIVE ME THE BALL" when it's a close game in the fourth quarter.

General Managers love guys that are "cocky" or seemingly overconfident. Often, those players outperform their measurable skills and come through with big plays when other players are jittery and losing form. Allen is the type of cocksure playmaker that I love on a football team, and if a ref is going to penalize him for that every so often, so be it. I'd rather have a loudmouth like DeSean Jackson or Steve Smith that puts up numbers than a team full of guys that believe in the possibility of losing or getting beat.

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