To those on the outside of the Chargers organization/fan base, Keenan Allen was starting to be viewed as a potential bust who just couldn’t seem to shake the injury bug. In fact, up until this past season, Allen had never stayed healthy through an entire 16-game season.
This was a completely valid thought-process as the talented wide receiver sustained back-to-back season-ending injuries in 2015 and ‘16. It also didn’t help the receiver’s outlook when you take into account just how devastating the injuries were.
During the team’s contest against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2015 season, Allen came down hard after snagging a beautiful touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone. As the team and fans celebrated, the smiles and cheers quickly turned into faces of disbelief. Allen was taken off the field and soon diagnosed with a lacerated kidney.
A what now?
It was, by far, the flukiest injury I have ever witnessed on the field. It was so fluky that even the ACL tear he sustained against the Chiefs to begin the 2016 season seem fairly run-of-the-mill. But still, after the absolutely horrendous stretch of bad luck, The Slayer came into this past season with unabashed confidence. What we witnessed was a historic season for not only a Chargers wide receiver, but for the entire NFL.
The highest WR game grades from 2017! pic.twitter.com/iz1z1tLtCe— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 24, 2018
According to Pro Football Focus, Allen had the second and third-highest single game grades for a wide receiver this past season. His phenomenal performances were actually one after the other during weeks 11 and 12, against the Bills and Cowboys, respectively.
Against the Bills, Allen exploded for 159 yards on a season-high 12 catches, double-dipping in the endzone for good measure. He was graded out at a 95.9, just behind Julio Jones’ 99.9 grade from his thrashing of the Buccaneers in Week 12.
On Thanksgiving Day, Allen stuffed the stat sheet once more. In Jerryworld, Allen hauled in 11 catches for a career-high 172 yards and one beautiful catch-and-run touchdown.
After baring witness to what Allen can produce during a full season of health, Charger fans and the rest of the NFL have no more excuses to not think highly of the the fifth-year wide receiver. If Allen were to have a similar, if not better, season in 2018, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to argue that #13 deserves to be in the top-tier of NFL wide receivers.