Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

Setting New Heights: Why Keenan Allen is Playing His Best Football Ever

Keenan Cover

Keenan Allen is playing as well as he ever has.

That's saying something considering how consistent and productive the Chargers wide receiver has been through his first decade in the NFL.

And while some might be surprised by his eye-popping numbers, it's simply Keenan being Keenan.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Allen has racked up 402 receiving yards, the third-most in the NFL entering Week 4. That's the second-highest mark of his career through the first three weeks (404 in 2019).

The 31-year-old receiver also leads the NFL in receptions with 32, sits at second in the NFL in yards after the catch (161) and is fourth in yards per route run (3.12).

"Feeling good. Very motivated, always got a chip on my shoulder," Allen told "Just continue to prove them wrong.

"Just continue playing my game," Allen later added about his great start to the season. "Try not to force too much. Just go out there and let it happen."

Keenan 4

If you want an example of just how great Allen has been to start the season, look no further than the Bolts most-recent game against the Vikings.

With the Chargers searching for their first win, Allen helped deliver it with perhaps the best performance of his entire career.

He finished with a franchise-record 18 catches and added 215 yards, a career-high as he surpassed the 200-yard receiving mark for the first time. He also became the only player in NFL history with three career games of 15-plus receptions.

To add to the long list of accolades, Allen is now No. 2 in franchise history with 9,689 receiving yards and is No. 1 among all wide receivers on that list.

The veteran wide receiver has seen just about every defensive coverage and look and has lined up against countless schemes.

Add that experience to his knowledge of the game, and you get one of the most special receivers in the league.

"Just as consistent as they come," Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert said about Allen after the Week 3 win in Minnesota. "He's so talented, so smart. He knows exactly how people are playing him. Understands leverage so well, and he is a quarterback's best friend. To be able to get the ball out to him quickly, for him to make plays, he makes my job so much easier.

Herbert later added: "We know how special Keenan is. Any time you get him 1-on-1, you have to find ways to get him the ball."

Keenan 2

And as if Allen's day in Minnesota needed any more career firsts, he also threw a 49-yard touchdown pass, his first completion in the NFL.

He did it all when the Bolts needed it. The end result was, as Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley put it, a "maestro performance" from Allen.

With the Vikings defense bringing the heat on almost every play, the Chargers allowed Herbert and Allen to play pitch and catch up and down the field.

"The ability for [Chargers Offensive Coordinator] Kellen [Moore] and our offensive staff to formulate things to get him in premium positions and to allow him to make a lot of decision-type routes that make him really tough to defend," Staley said about Allen. "He just is so good at understanding leverage and attacking different coverages.

"I'm excited for Keenan because it capped one of those maestro performances for him," Staley later added. "A career game. A record-setting game."

While those outside of the building continue to marvel at what Allen is doing during the start of the season, his fellow wide receivers are not surprised by his high level of play.

"When you have been here for a while, and you watch him every day I'm not really surprised," said wide receiver Joshua Palmer. "He's putting on a show for everybody else, but he's always putting on a show for us in practice and games.

"So, it's almost like that's normal. Like, we aren't surprised to see that. I'm not surprised to see that," Palmer added.

Keenan 1

Yet, it still feels at times like Allen is often overlooked, whether it be now or throughout his 11 total seasons. Even as younger wide receivers on other teams routinely mention him as someone they watch to help improve their own game.

But none of the outside noise or opinions — good or bad — matters to Allen.

"Nah," Allen said shaking his head.

"It's all opinionated, everybody got one," Allen added. "None of them matter."

The longest-tenured member of the Chargers, Allen has taken the responsibility over the years to set the standard for not only the offense, but also for the team as a whole.

Whether it's players at other positions or those in the same room as him, Allen has always felt the responsibility to be a figure others can learn from.

"I take a lot of pride [in being a leader]," Allen said. "I looked up to the guys who were here before me."

And with wide receiver Mike Williams now out for the season with a torn ACL, the Bolts wide receiver room will rely on Allen to help guide younger players such as Palmer and first-round pick Quentin Johnston on and off the field.

But the room is set up to help Allen and the young players thrive.

And as the years have gone by, Allen has made it a personal goal to recreate the tight-knit environment that helped him succeed as a young receiver in the NFL.

"It's very important [to have a close group]," Allen said. "It helps you be selfless out there. We all are doing this for one main goal. Anytime the guys make a play, you get happy for them.

"Everybody's got to have the same goal, and everybody has got to love the game the same way," Allen added.

Keenan 3

That brotherhood has been set up to try and help the room navigate any situation that comes up during a 17-game season, whether it's injuries, in-game adversity or a few losses.

The next test for the Bolts is the start of AFC West play Sunday against the Raiders, and also won't include Williams in the lineup.

Allen has been in his fair share of battles against division opponents — 45 to be exact — so the wide receiver knows the fight the Bolts are in for no matter each team's record.

"It's always a close game," Allen said. "It's always a tough fight. You got to bring you're 'A game.'

"Definitely more physical," Allen added. "All three of the games are [games against rivals], so you have to go out there and play your best game."

Allen knows the Raiders well, as evident by the success he and the Bolts have had against the silver and black over the years.

The Chargers are 10-7 against the Raiders in games Allen has played, with the wide receiver lighting up the stat sheet on more than one occasion.

The Raiders are the team Allen has notched the most career catches (103) and receiving yards (1,146) against, often finding success in the most crucial situations. It doesn't matter which players he's gone up against, the wide receiver has found a way to get it done against one of team's biggest rivals.

Even with plenty of player turnover on both teams over the years, Allen said one thing has always remained during Raider Week.

"The feeling," Allen said. "The feeling of playing those guys. The intensity, everything is magnified.

"We don't like them, and they don't like us," Allen added. "So, you got to go out there and get it done."

As if this AFC West battle needed any more added weight, both teams head into the game with identical 1-2 records.

Allen has seen the Chargers make the playoffs three separate times after starting 1-2, including a season ago.

Allen's message to his teammates during the first month of the season?

Stay the course.

You can't win every game in the season in one week. It's one at a time.

"That's what it's about, one week at a time," Allen said. "You got to get the 'dub' each and every week and just keep going back to work."

"It's a long season, you have to make the best of it," Allen added.

The next step of this long journey is the Raiders, a game Allen will look to keep up his scorching start to the season.

Bolt Up!

Secure your Chargers Mini Plan today! Click here to learn more.

From Our Partners