The Los Angeles Chargers had a rather strange season. They started 0-4, but then went on one of their usual late-season runs only to come up just short of the playoffs at 9-7 due to tiebreakers. Still, there were some things they had to feel pretty good when it was all said and done. One of those things was the season that wide receiver Keenan Allen had. He was known to be good, but his health remained in question. Even his future in the league seemed a little foggy at the beginning of the season. But he has instead had his best season to date and is a very strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
Keenan Allen Should Be Comeback Player of the Year
Two Injury Plagued Seasons
Allen’s first two seasons were decent statistically and avoided major injuries, but then came 2015 and 2016. In 2015 he got off to a stellar start, having 725 yards in the first eight games and thus being on pace for 1,450 yards. But his season ended there due to a lacerated kidney. Matters only got worse in 2016. In the very first game of the season, before the first half even ended, he tore his ACL.
Allen only played nine games in two seasons. That is not good. And by the time that the 2017 season was beginning to roll around, some fans were indeed feeling nervous. It felt like he was just one more early season-ending injury away from his career as a Charger being possibly over.
The 2017 Campaign
And then the 2017 season happened for Allen, and it really could not have gone a lot better. He admittedly did not garner a whole lot of notice during the first half of the season, but that was mostly due to the Chargers struggling in general at the time and him only getting in the end zone once in the first eight games. He was not spectacular, but he was doing well enough.
Then he just exploded down the stretch. He experienced an unforgettable, historic three-game run where he became the first receiver in NFL history with 10+ catches, 100+ yards and at least one touchdown in three straight games. No one else had ever done that. And when having six catches for 111 yards is the worst game in a four-game stretch, one is doing pretty well.
What might be more noteworthy to some is how he finished the season overall. Allen actually played all 16 games, and he finished with 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He ended up finishing third in the league in receiving yardage, behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Allen also had 102 catches on the season, the most in franchise history.
Give Him the Award
Some were not sure if Allen would ever play a full season again. Given the apparent odds stacked against him, what he has managed to accomplish this season has been quite remarkable. There have been a couple players this year who have also come back pretty well from either a terrible year or a season-ending injury; Todd Gurley has also been mentioned as a candidate. But Allen had to overcome two injury-plagued seasons and he not only did that, he had one of the best seasons of any receiver in the league this season.
Given all of that, the choice seems rather clear. Keenan Allen has earned the Comeback Player of the Year award. And not only that, but he is putting the league on notice. If he can continue to stay healthy in future seasons, he may be terrorizing defensive backs for several years to come.