Chargers HC Brandon Staley Praises Justin Herbert’s Progression After Stellar 2021 Season

As other teams continue searching for a potential franchise quarterback, it’s clear the Los Angeles Chargers have one in Justin Herbert — and head coach Brandon Staley is more than happy to rub it in.

Although the Chargers narrowly missed the 2021 NFL Playoffs, few, if any, chose to put the blame on Herbert, who completed 65.9% of his passes for 5,014 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions in 17 games. The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time and erased any doubts about him being a fluke or unworthy of replacing Philip Rivers.

Staley, who led the Chargers to a 9-8 record in his first year as the head coach, remains ecstatic about having the chance to work with Herbert. The 39-year-old is especially optimistic about what the Oregon product will do for an encore next season because he’ll have the same coaching staff in place; Joe Lombardi, who worked with Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford in previous stops, will return for his second season as offensive coordinator.

During a May 5 appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Staley said he believes Herbert will benefit from the continuity and not needing to spend the offseason learning an entirely new system.

“I just think there’s a lot to build on. His experiences — I think so much as a young player at quarterback is the inventory of experiences. It’s kind of like being a rookie head coach; you learn so much every single day. And I think Justin building that inventory of the defensive structures, the defensive coordinators that he’s going [against], he’s only going to get better.”

Brandon Staley

Although Herbert threw five more interceptions last season, he also played another two games and threw 77 more passes than in his rookie campaign. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound gunslinger played 99.6% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps last season and came seconds short of leading the Bolts to a wild-card berth.

“I think that comfort zone of being in the same offense, being in a rhythm where we can go over the plays that he’s actually run and build on that, build that chemistry with our receiving corps, tight ends, backs,” Staley said.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in 2021.
Los Angeles Chargers star Justin Herbert has quickly become one of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Staley said he and the Chargers’ staff have tried building an offensive system build around the young quarterback. Indeed, the Bolts played to Herbert’s strengths last season and averaged 27.9 points per game in the process, up from 24.0 in 2020.

“When Justin plays free, and he’s having fun out there, there are few better,” Staley said.

Such a reality is ideal for the Chargers, who enter the 2022 campaign with an excellent opportunity to make waves in the AFC. Odds Shark listed the Chargers as +1400 favorites (bet $100 and win $1,500) to win Super Bowl 57 next season. Only the Buffalo Bills (+650) and Kansas City Chiefs (+1000) ranked higher in the AFC as of May 7, 2022.

Not bad for a quarterback who I once thought would be a bust. Oops.

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