Justin Herbert Is the Real Deal

Despite the loss, LA appears to have their QB of the future

Last night, the Los Angeles Chargers lost a closely contested game against the New Orleans Saints 30–27. Los Angeles however, really should be the team coming off a victory. Chargers’ kicker Michael Badgley missed an extra point earlier in the game, which would’ve given LA a 28–27 win. Despite the miss, Badgley had a chance for redemption. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Badgley had an opportunity to win the game with a 50 yard field goal attempt. He missed that as well. The game would head to overtime, eventually leading to a New Orleans victory.

But last night isn’t about the Saints. It’s about the Chargers’ new franchise quarterback.

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Herbert ranks ninth in passing touchdowns despite not playing week one. Jason Behnken/Associated Press

Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has shown he’s legit. Some criticized the selection of Herbert so high in the draft. Analysts wondered if his introverted personality would hinder his ability to lead a team. That hasn’t been the case so far. Actually it’s been quite the opposite. Yes Herbert is yet to lead LA to a win. The team however, has been able to keep all of their games close. The big reason for that is their new QB.

Herbert has been nothing short of spectacular for a rookie. He currently has 1,195 passing yards which ranks 18th in the league, despite not playing the first game. Herbert is tied for ninth with nine passing touchdowns. This ranks ahead of quarterbacks who have played one more game such as Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, and Jared Goff. LA’s rookie also has the eighth-best passer rating (107.1), while completing 68.8% of his throws.

Now Herbert obviously hasn’t been perfect, which is to be expected for a rookie. He however is a big reason Los Angeles has been in contention in all of their games. Let’s start with the loss last night to the Saints. Herbert played great. He finished with 264 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. This was also without his top running back (Austin Ekeler), and his top receiver for most of the game (Keenan Allen left in the first quarter). That didn’t stop Herbert from having the team positioned to leave New Orleans with a win.

His previous game against Tampa Bay wasn’t a blowout either. Actually, the Chargers led for the majority of the game. However, in the end the Buccaneers won 38–31. Herbert finished the game completing 20/25 throws for 290 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. During this game the Chargers were without their number two receiver Mike Williams, who proved to be a great target against New Orleans (109 yards and two touchdowns). In the end, Herbert and company simply lost to a better team.

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Herbert is yet to lose a game by more than seven points. Brett Duke/Associated Press

In his second start, the Chargers held a 7–6 lead over Carolina, before eventually falling 21–16. Herbert finished with 330 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The rookie also lost a fumble. This was a good but not great game for Herbert. It was his only game so far with multiple turnovers. Despite that, Herbert was still able to rack up the yards through the air, while keeping the game close.

The rookie QB’s first game may be his most impressive out of them all however. Not because of his numbers (which aren’t bad), but because of the circumstances. Herbert wasn’t even supposed to play in week two against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tyrod Taylor was the starter before getting his lung accidentally punctured pre-game by the team doctor. This led to Herbert having to lead LA against the defending Super Bowl champions on what many would imagine was little to no reps with the first team in practice. The rookie stepped up big time. The Chargers lost in overtime 23–20, but Herbert was impressive. He finished with 311 yards, two total touchdowns (one rushing), and one interception. To be able to perform like that in your first start, with no practice against the Chiefs shows that Herbert will be just fine in the NFL.

Now most would probably prefer Herbert wins some games before claiming he’s the answer. But we have to be realistic. He’s a rookie who in all likelihood wouldn’t be starting if it weren’t for a freak injury to Tyrod Taylor. His team has also dealt with their fair share of injuries. Key players like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Derwin James have all missed time this season. Not to mention that an offensive line ranked 30th entering the season by Pro Football Focus has also seen their top two offseason acquisitions (Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga) deal with injuries. Despite all of this Herbert has played extremely well. Yes you would like some wins, but he has faced some talented teams. He’ll get there sooner rather than later. For now Chargers fans can relax knowing they’ve got their guy.

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University at Buffalo ’20 | BA in Communication | Writer for The Sports Scientist

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