When an offense is struggling sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the problems are. With the Chargers, I don’t think that’s the case. In their situation, it seems like they’re worried about the “too many mouths to feed” saying. The team seems to want to spread the ball around and get everyone involved like it’s basketball. If I’m a play-caller, I’m going to pull a Todd Haley and just give the ball to my 2 best players until someone makes me stop that. Sunday against the Bills, Ken Whisenhunt did just that.
For the last 7 games, Keenan Allen hasn’t had over 5 catches or 67 yards. That feels pedestrian. That feels like number 2 receiver stuff. I don’t think anyone would argue that Allen and Hunter Henry are the teams biggest threats. So instead of trying to get everyone involved, why not just let them do the heavy lifting? Sunday we got an idea what of what the offense could be if Chargers call the “throw it to your best player” play over and over. Philip Rivers said in a press conference that a couple of times he just told Allen he was going to stare at him while he gets open. Allen was in the slot often where he could run an “option” route. Here’s a look at his route tree from Sunday courtesy of Next Gen Stats from nfl.com
That’s quite the production on 13 targets. That 1 target might’ve been a defensive holding that went uncalled, too. I don’t want to say Allen has looked this sharp or been this open all year because he certainly hasn’t. Just last week against the Jags he still had this weird balance issue he’s had all year where he can’t stay on his feet out of cuts. But this week Allen was the quickest and sharpest he’s ever been. Head Coach Anthony Lynn said in a press conference that he’s down to 207 pounds after coming into camp at 218. I don’t want to go over every target, but there were some that I have to show you just so you realize how crisp Allen was against the Bills.
Sly in the slot
I’ve always wanted Allen to be the “big slot” Reggie Wayne type receiver. I felt like keeping him on the outside was limiting him. He’s not a vertical threat. He also only has 1 way to go. When he’s inside defenders have to honor both ways. You also can get him on multiple mismatches. Allen on a linebacker is something the Chargers will take every day of the week.
Another advantage Allen has inside is spacing. Look at all that room he has to work with. Poor #50 doesn’t have a chance. With his quickness and separation, he can get Keenan turned a couple 5 yard catches in to double-digit catches.
This is the play where Rivers said I’ll just stare at you, get open. Again, inside matched up against a linebacker. Good luck.
I don’t know what else the linebacker can do there besides tackle him. That’s tough. The touchdown on the 2nd drive came from the slot as well. A simple back shoulder fade. A throw Rivers excels at. A throw I think they can use a lot more with some of the size they have at receiver.
You know Allen is getting his quicks back as because the coaches are getting him the ball right away. Whether it’s jet sweeps or screens. He caught a deep crossing route and made a guy miss on the fly. It’s a jab step he uses that’s almost like a euro-step you’d see from James Harden in the NBA. Whatever it is, it works.
Maybe the quickest Keenan has looked all year. Lots of ankles sacrificed pic.twitter.com/9uosLZr8L6— KP (@KP_Show) November 21, 2017
As the team goes down the stretch they can’t afford to put up stinkers like in weeks past. One way to avoid that is to give the ball to your best playmaker. Allen is that guy, as he showed Sunday.