The Los Angeles Chargers marched right into Arrowhead Stadium and took care of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 of the NFL season. It was a much-anticipated AFC West showdown between Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes, who are the cream of the crop of the next generation of quarterbacks.
The Chargers escaped from Kansas City with a 30-24 victory, and suddenly Mahomes and the reigning AFC champions are in last place in the division, thanks in part to the right arm of Justin Herbert.
Brandon Staley’s epic response after watching Justin Herbert do magic
The Chargers hung around with Mahomes and the Chiefs the entire game. Then, with a tie game and a 4th-and-9 in the closing minutes, head coach Brandon Staley decided to roll the dice and go for it. Well, it certainly worked, as Herbert and the Chargers got the first — thanks in part to a Chiefs’ pass interference call.
Then came two consecutive passes to Mike Williams, with the final being a beautifully thrown 4-yard fade that sealed the deal. After all that, Staley couldn’t help but draw a wild comparison for Herbert, per Gilbert Manzano of the OC Register: “We’re fortunate we have a gangster quarterback.”
Justin Herbert is a gangster, apparently. After all, he did put the team on his back and ignore the wild Chiefs crowd, ending the game with a perfect fade to Williams and leaving everybody in a state of shock.
Herbert finished the day 26-of-38 for 281 yards with four scores and yet another huge impression left on the NFL.
Justin Herbert the gangster
The baby-faced Justin Herbert, standing at 6-foot-6 and just 23 years old, was born in Eugene, Oregon, and played college ball at the University of Oregon before going south to LA. But according to Staley, he is a gangster.
Why? Simply put, the Chargers’ second-year signal-caller has done wonders during his short time in the NFL.
After a bizarre injury to Tyrod Taylor, Herbert took over the starting job and forced the rookie into action in the second week of his rookie campaign. Oddly enough, that was against the Kansas City Chiefs. He lost the game but caught everybody off-guard and took the defending Super Bowl champions to overtime in his first-ever start.
From then on, the story wrote itself. Herbert played so well that Anthony Lynn had no choice but to continue with him, even with Taylor being ready to go. The rookie became the full-time starter, which was unexpected and unprecedented, even more with the virtual offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite all of that, he walked away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and a handful of Rookie of the Week honors after catching the league by storm. While many had projected Herbert as a bust or a project quarterback, he settled in and delivered strike after strike after strike and suddenly made the Chargers and their fans forget about Philip Rivers.
The Chargers have arrived after stunning the Chiefs at Arrowhead
The Chargers quarterback changed the call at the line of scrimmage and abandoned the run with just 36 seconds on the clock. Because of that — and the myriad other plays he made against the Chiefs — the Chargers have once again put the league on notice.
What a difference a coaching change can make, and the situation in Los Angeles is a textbook example of such. Anthony Lynn got fired and headed off to lead the Detroit Lions offense, and Staley has instilled aggressiveness that this team lacked in the Lynn era.
Moreover, the Chargers are just a couple of plays away from being 3-0 and are headed for a huge Monday night clash against the undefeated Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium. It won’t be easy, either, as Derek Carr and the Raiders have been one of the early surprises in the 2021 campaign.
But, the Chargers have a “gangster” quarterback in Justin Herbert, and that alone should bode well for their success going forward.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference