Is Justin Herbert ‘That Guy’?
Sharing a division with Patrick Mahomes means Justin Herbert needs to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league for the Los Angeles Chargers to have any chance of competing with the Kansas City Chiefs for the division. Herbert was unexpectedly thrown into the starting lineup in week two and went on to win the Offensive Rookie of The Year award. He looks to build upon an impressive rookie season and will try to lead the Chargers to the NFL playoffs.
At 6’6 and 236 pounds, Herbert has the physical tools to be a great quarterback. Playing in 15 games, Herbert set an NFL rookie record by throwing for 31 touchdowns. He also threw for 4,336 passing yards, finishing in the top ten in the league. Taking care of the ball and avoiding turnovers can be a problem for some rookies, but Herbert only threw ten interceptions and lost one fumble on the year. He was able to avoid turning the ball over, which is a killer for teams and can plague young quarterbacks in the league.
Veterans Taking Notice
After Herbert’s breakout rookie season, veterans around the league are taking notice. Free-agent tight end Jared Cook signed a 1 year, $6 million deal with the Chargers this offseason. Cook spent the last two seasons playing with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints and he had high praise for Herbert.
“He can sling the ball, man, and he came on last year unexpectedly, when nobody was expecting him to be a starter,” Cook said. “He can escape situations with his legs, and that’s the way the game is evolving.” That’s high praise coming from the 12 year NFL veteran.
Chargers are All-In on Herbert
The Chargers believe they have found their franchise quarterback, and the team is paying to protect him. The first move Los Angeles made this offseason was to sign All Pro center Corey Linsley, making him one of the highest-paid centers in the league. The Chargers then spent their first-round pick on Rashawn Slater, the highly-rated tackle out of Northwestern. The team is hoping these two guys can anchor the line for years to come and keep Herbert on his feet and healthy.
For all the praise and accomplishments that Herbert has received, he still was not able to lead the Chargers to a winning record. He lost his first four games as a starter and finished the season with a 6-9 record as a starter. Will he be able to lead his team to a playoff berth and challenge the Chiefs for the division? Will he continue to lose games while putting up big numbers? Will he struggle in his second season now that opposing coaches have fifteen games of tape on him? Plenty of young quarterbacks have come into the league and gotten off to a hot start and never live up to the hype. This year we will see if Herbert looks like he can really be ‘that guy,’ or if he looks like a one-hit rookie wonder.