Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has been on a dominant streak over the past four games. Will the Kansas City Chiefs have an answer for him?
Whenever there is a game against the Los Angeles Chargers coming up, most fans tend to be discussing the matchup between Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. The nightmares from week 1 of 2016 when Allen was getting the best of Peters before going down with a season-ending injury. Are these nightmares of Allen warranted?
Allen, who’s sustained a couple injuries keeping him from playing a full season the last two years, he is having the best season of his career. After defeating the Washington Redskins this past Sunday, he passed his previous high receiving yards in one season. He’s currently number five in the NFL in most receiving yards and averaging 87.9 yards per game.
Not only has he had a great overall season, his last four in the Chargers win streak he has been on fire. These are his numbers the last four games.
- vs Washington Redskins – 6 catches for 111 yards
- vs Cleveland Browns – 10 catches for 105 yards and 1 touchdown
- @ Dallas Cowboys – 11 catches for 172 yards and 1 touchdown
- vs Buffalo Bills – 12 catches for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns
There are multiple traits that Allen owns which make him extremely difficult to scheme for. One of the first things I noticed when going back and watching his last four games and the week 3 game against the Chiefs, was his ability to create separation at the line of scrimmage. For a big bodied receiver, 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, he has great quickness after the snap and great moves to shake off cornerbacks.
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No matter the coverage, press or zone, Allen finds ways to get open and makes it look easy in the process. The two moves I saw him utilize the most when in press coverage were his hesitation and then suddenly burst to throw the cornerback off and his stutter step making the corner jump in one direction while he takes off in the other pushing the cornerback’s hands off of him. It’s very rare for a receiver his size to have the quickness that he has.
Allen’s stutter step and quick change of directions don’t just work against press coverage at the line of scrimmage. It also works against cornerbacks playing off coverage. Watch this play below where Allen leaves Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White absolutely stunned.
Allen’s quickness makes his double moves extremely dangerous. Just to keep up, cornerbacks will often draw a pass interference flag trying to hold onto him as he blows right past them like in this play against the Browns. Cornerback Jason McCourty had no chance at winning this battle.
Allen is a smaller cornerback’s worst nightmare. I mentioned his size earlier but then you add his great awareness on the boundary and balance, it’s just not fair. Just in the games I went back and watched for this week’s articles I noticed Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throw multiple 50/50 balls his way each game. The Redskins tried to put a bigger cornerback against Allen most of the game with Quinton Dunbar who is also 6’2, and you can see how even against bigger corners Allen can go up and get the ball with his 18-foot arms.
Everything leading up to the catch is problem enough, but Allen makes tremendous plays after the catch as well. As you saw in the play against White, Allen has the ability to gain additional yards after the catch (YAC). In fact, he is the third-ranked receiver in yards after the catch in 2017 with a total of 410 YAC. That’s one spot higher than Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
For more receivers like this, teams tend to bracket with a safety over the top to help shut them down. The part that makes this complicated for defense is never knowing where Allen is going to line up. He makes a lot of his money coming out of the slot. In the games I examined, he made almost as many catches working in the slot as he did playing on the outside. Even when he is the primary focus for the defense, he’s almost impossible to bracket and double team.
Which brings up the questions of how can the Chiefs slow him down? If you go back to the last meeting between these two teams in week 3, Allen was matched up against Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell most of the game. Mitchell is a big physical corner that makes it very frustrating for receivers. You might remember seeing Allen getting frustrated and going after Mitchell a few times.
Most fans are fearing the Peters vs Allen matchup, but the last time these two played, Allen only lined up against Peters for one passing down and the ball didn’t even go his way. Outside of that one play, Allen lined up in the slot or on the other side. Mitchell ended the game with two interceptions and four pass deflections.
The Chiefs will probably not play Mitchell much in this matchup as they have brought in veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis to help bolster the secondary. Revis had a great game last week and will genuinely be put to the test against this Chargers offense. Cornerback Steven Nelson will be most likely covering the slot on nickel and dime packages which is an upgrade over cornerback Phillip Gaines who was in that role during the last meeting.
If defensive coordinator Bob Sutton comes out with a similar gameplan as he did against the Raiders, playing his corners in press man coverage most of the day, the Chiefs have a much greater chance of decelerating Allen. The pass rush will have to continue their success from this past Sunday against a more impotent Chargers offensive line. If they can get Rivers off his plant, it could be another long day for the Chargers offense.