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Keenan Allen is about to get paid and he deserves every penny

Kyle Posey reviews every route that Keenan Allen ran in the 2015 season.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I did this after Keenan Allen's rookie year. I look at all the routes he ran to see how successful his season really was. Stats never really tell the whole story, so I'll rarely reference them in this post.

What you'll see

  • Allen's route breakdown from Weeks 1-8
  • "Dummy routes are not included. For example; If Allen runs a vertical route and never looks for the ball, it's not on here. No screens, either.
  • This isn't a study of "targets and receptions"; that's everywhere on the internet. This is as simple as "was he open versus Player X on Route Z?" If you see 1/1, that means Allen was open. If you see 1/2, that means Allen was open once and covered the other time.
  • If he created an arms length of separation, that's how I determined if he was open or not

Should've seen it coming

Versus the Lions

Lions Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Post Comeback Corner Slant
Rashean Mathis 8/11 0/2 3/4 2/3 4/5 2/3 0/1 1/1- 0/1 1/1
Josh WIlson 1/1 2/2 1/1 2/2 1/1
Darius Slay 2/3 1/1 1/1 1/1 1/1 0/1
James Ihedigbo 0/1 1/2 0/1 1/1
Stephen Tullouch 1/1 2/3 0/1 1/1 1/1 0/1
J Bynes 1/1 1/1 1/1
Q Diggs 1/1 1/1

  • Keenan's usage this game gave me false hope for Frank Reich. He lined up in multiple spots and ran the entire route tree. Allen only lined up in the slot 4 times, however, his "split" was altered so he wasn't always just lined up out wide.
  • This was peak "throw the ball to your good players." Allen ran 26 actual routes and was targeted on 17 of them.
  • Though he had 15 catches, it was a slow start for Allen. Five of the seven routes where he wasn't open came in the 1st half
  • Once the Lions started blitzing and leaving the middle of the field open, their CBs had no shot to stop Allen crossing the middle of the field
  • This game should've been the sign for all of us that he was in for a huge season

Not so fast

Versus the Bengals

Bengals Slot Man Zone Contested Curl Drag Dig Comeback Corner Slant Go
Adam Jones 5/9' 1/1' 1/2' 2/3' 2/2' 1/4'
Leon Hall
Dre Kirkpatrick 2/4' 1/1' 1/1' 0/1 1/1' 0/1
Reggie Nelson 1/1' 2/2' 1/1' 1/1'

Allen went from lining up all over in week 1 to lining up once in the slot and running three routes more than once. Maybe this was the real sign of what Reich was to become. Allen was open on 11/17 of his routes, which, for his standards, is below average. Any game he's below 78-80% I'd say it was a bad game for him. So 64% isn't acceptable as the main threat. Keenan had a drop this game and for whatever reason Dre Kirkpatrick was able to stick with him and that should not happen.

The wily old veteran Jones did a good job of staying on top of Allen's vertical routes. Ironically, the one time Allen was open deep it could've been a big play but a certain center that you'll never guess was beat and gave up a sack. Allen had a drop, and to put this game in a nutshell for both his and Reich's performance, he didn't even get targeted until the third play of the fourth series.

Versus the Vikings

Vikings Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Out Post Corner Slant Go
T Newman 1/1' 5/7' 0/1 0/1 1/1' 3/4' 0/1 1/2'
X Rodes 2/4' 0/1 1/1' 0/1 0/1 1/1'
C Munnerlyin 0/2 0/2 0/1 0/1 0/1
T Waynes 5/5' 1/1' 2/2' 2/2'
A Barr 1/1' 2/2' 2/2'
E Kendricks 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'
T Lewis 0/1 0/1 0/1

  • There was a better job of moving Allen around this game and getting him over the middle of the field.
  • I didn't count his garbage time routes, including when he scored when it was 31-7 and Kellen Clemens was throwing to him
  • The 1st half was not a good one for him, where Allen could not get separation underneath. The Vikings did a good job of being physical with him.
  • On the final drive of the 2nd quarter, that changed. He caught a couple of quick curls, got Rhodes on a beautiful double move for a long TD.
  • That carried over into the 2nd half where he absolutely torched Waynes

Schooling the young guys

Browns Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Out Corner Slant Go
P Desir 6/10; 2/3; 1/1' 0/3; 1/1' 1/1' 2/2; 1/2'
J Bademosi 0/1 4/8; 1/2; 1/2' 0/1 0/1 1/1; 2/3'
J Gilbert 0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1 0/1
D Whitner 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'
T Williams 1/1' 1/1' 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'
T Gipson 0/1 0/1 0/1

  • Slow start to the game. Allen was 1/4 on Bademosi. Poor finish versus Desir. As he finished 1/4, too.
  • The middle of the game was superb, though. What I learned this game is when Allen is on the field Dontrelle Inman is so much better/more effective.
  • Philip Rivers is very good at throwing a football
  • Something that stood out this game more than the previous three was Allen's tempo. His change of pace was no match for the Browns young corners.
  • It's funny to see him get worked up when he's open deep because he's rarely open deep.
  • His footwork and ability to create separation on slants make me wonder why this isn't his main route
  • Allen drew a couple defensive penalties with his route running this game

Versus the Steelers

Steelers Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Out Corner Slant Go Post
A Blake 3/3; 1/1' 2/2; 2/2'
R Cockrell 2/6' 1/1' 0/1 2/3; 1/1' 0/2 0/1
W Allen 2/2' 1/1' 2/3' 1/1; 0/1 2/2'
R Golden 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'
S Spence 1/1' 1/1'
W Gay 0/1 2/4' 0/1 1/1' 1/2'
V Williams 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'
L Timmons 1/2' 0/1 1/1' 1/1' 0/1
J Harrison 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'

  • Through the first three possessions, the game plan was to get the ball into both running backs hands and let them operate in space. So not much action for any of the receivers.
  • Cockrell was in "trail coverage" against Allen and with him rarely running vertical this made life easy on him as he could sit on all routes.
  • After a game where he had great success running slant routes, he ran one. Naturally, the one he ran was this:
  • Allen ran a very nice corner route against Gay that would should have been a TD but Rivers was under pressure and had to throw off of his back-foot
  • Guarding Antonio Gates one-on-one in the red zone is suboptimal
  • The final play on offense for the Chargers Allen was naked on a drag across the middle but a defender tipped it. If he catches that San Diego probably wins this game.
  • Moar slants

"Throw it to your good players"

Versus the Packers

Packers Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Post Out Slant Go Over
Shields 1/1; 7/12; 4/4; 0/1 2/3; 1/3; 0/1 1/1; 2/2; 1/1;
Heyward 1/2; 2/3; 2/3; 3/3; 1/1; 0/1
M Hyde 1/2; 1/2; 1/1; 1/2; 0/1;
D Randall 5/8; 0/1 1/1' 1/1; 0/2; 2/2; 2/2; 1/2;
N Palmer 1/1' 1/1' 1/1'
C Banjo 1/1; 1/1;
  • Football is simple. This game Keenan saw almost as many targets (15) as he had the previous two games (17).
  • The first three plays of the game were thrown to Allen for completions of seven, six and nine. They couldn't convert 2nd and 1.
  • The theme here is when you vary the routes Allen runs and don't make him predictable he is a tough cover.
  • Numbers never tell the entire story. Ever. Even in this. By this metric Allen's 1st half success rate was an abysmal 44%(11/25). Four of his "losses" were receptions. What you don't see is that he was 6/6 in the contested catch department. So while he technically wasn't "open" he was still hauling in passes.
  • 11 catches for 128 yards in the 1st half is #good
  • This game was interesting because some of the routes where he created the most separation weren't targets. This was a clinic as far as "how to win at the line of scrimmage." Unfortunately, Allen didn't play the 4th quarter due to injury.

Or don't?

Versus the Raiders

OAK Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Post Out Slant Go
Amerson 8/11; 2/2; 0/1 1/1; 5/6; 0/1; 4/4; 0.1
Hayden 0/2 3/4; 1/1; 1/1; 1/2; 2/2; 0/2
Carrie 1/1; 2/2; 1/1; 1/1;
A Smith 1/1; 1/1;
N Ball 1/1; 1/1; 1/1;
N Thorpe 0/1 0/1

  • This is the first game where I felt like pressure was truly affecting Rivers performance.
  • As you can see, the variety of routes just isn't there.
  • Where Rivers would make up his mind pre-snap due to the pressure he faced and miss open guys or affected his throws. He even took an intentional grounding, that never happens.
  • If there was a game/reason why they let Ladarius Green go, it was for his blocking in this one. Oof.
  • 37-6 going into the 4th quarter. I fell asleep in real life and cut the garbage time here.

Goodnight, sweet prince

Versus the Ravens

BAL Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Dig Out Corner Go
J Smith 1/2; 2/4; 1/1; 0/1 1/2; 1/1; 1/1; 0/1;
L Webb 0/1 0/1 0/1
S Wright 1/1; 1/1;
Arrington 1/2; 2/2;

  • Finishing a season catching all five of his targets including a touchdown is fitting. Especially with all of that coming in the 1st half. Jimmy Smith is a stud who is very physical. Allen held his own against him.

Season numbers and what to expect

Slot Man Zone Contested 5 yard in Curl Drag Slant
21/35 81/127 35/52 16/25 17/21 41/59 12/15; 10/13;
Dig Out Over Post Corner Comeback Go
20/31 9/12; 0/1 1/8; 4/6; 1/1; 8/19;

His numbers are "down" from his rookie year. No surprise, the further Allen gets away from the line of scrimmage the more he struggles. Being open on 64% of his non-garbage time routes suggests Allen is more of a number two receiver.

Then you see what type of impact Allen has for this offense. He makes it go. He's a reliable target. Catching 75% of his targets. San Diego was averaging just under 24 points per game when Allen was on the field. They scored 8 fewer points when he was off of the field. In three of their final eight games, the offense didn't score a touchdown. Keenan moves the chains. Every other time he touches the ball it went for a 1st down last year. In eight games he had 34 receptions that went for 1st downs. So if we extrapolate that to a full season his hypothetical 68 1st down receptions would've put him at fourth highest in the league. Even if he had a few more down games he'd still project to to 10. These are the stats that matter. The stats that keep your offense on the field.

Allen is one of the ten best receivers in the league and after last season, he deserves to be paid like one.