The New England Patriots just thrashed the New York Jets on Sunday in an offensive coming out party for Mac Jones and coming. Next up is a game against the Los Angeles Chargers and star quarterback Justin Herbert, who the Patriots walloped 45-0 in his rookie campaign thanks to a golden Bill Belichick game plan.
But, this time it should be different. The Chargers are 4-2 and have reaped the benefits of hiring Brandon Staley as their new head coach. Nonetheless, Belichick got brutally honest about the Chargers’ sophomore gunslinger, and he sure does know a thing or two about having good quarterback play.
Bill Belichick can’t help but admire Justin Herbert
First of all, let’s remember that Belichick had the luxury of watching Tom Brady pioneer his Patriots’ teams for a very long time, almost as long as Herbert has been alive.
“He’s as good a quarterback as I’ve seen come out here in quite a while, especially as it fits the pro game. Yeah, I don’t think you’re going to find too many better than him.”
Bill Belichick on Justin Herbert’s early career success
That is massive praise for Herbert, who has yet to play two seasons in the NFL. Yet, Belichick admits how talented he is, even a year after a 45-point shutout of this Chargers team. Albeit, this year’s group is night and day with Anthony Lynn out the window.
The Patriots head coach isn’t wrong, either. Herbert jumped in after a bizarre Tyrod Taylor injury in 2020 and kept the job from thereon. In 2021, he garnered MVP consideration before a frustrating loss at the hands of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
Nonetheless, Herbert is as talented as they come and one of the young star quarterbacks in the NFL as the generation turns.
The Chargers are rolling thanks to #10
During the 2020 NFL Draft process, a plethora of analysts were out on Herbert. After a stellar career at Alabama, those same analysts were hyping up Tua Tagovailoa — and rightfully so.
The Miami Dolphins took Tagovailoa one pick before the Chargers, prompting general manager Tom Telesco to select the tall kid out of Oregon on draft day.
Less than two years later, that decision is looking like a walk-off home run. Sure, Tagovailoa and the Dolphins have other issues, but Herbert has adjusted quickly to the NFL game. Oh, and he is on his second head coach and second offensive coordinator in just two seasons.
It hasn’t mattered, and the Chargers being toward the top of the AFC West is primarily due to the right arm of Herbert. On the year, he’s tossed 1771 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions, and apart from an off day against the Ravens, their offense has looked magnificent.
The former Oregon Duck has adapted well to the NFL, and the Chargers have stumbled upon their superstar quarterback and franchise cornerstone for years to come. This is no secret, but hearing the words from Belichick will help Herbert’s confidence.
Chargers dealt another tough test with the Patriots coming to town
The Chargers’ schedule has been brutal to start the year. Their opponents have included the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys, the defending AFC Champions led by Patrick Mahomes, a Cleveland Browns team with Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb and a previously undefeated Las Vegas Raiders squad.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens steamrolled the Bolts last time around, but that was on the heels of a three-game winning streak for LA.
It won’t get easier with the Patriots after New England dropped a massive 54-spot on the Jets.
Belichick and this staff work wonders, and last time around the Chargers’ offense laid a massive goose egg against New England.
Keep in mind that the entire staff has been replaced, and the offensive line has vastly improved since then. Regardless, this game won’t come easy.
After that, things ease up a bit with the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, so good times are ahead. If Herbert can continue to play at an All-Pro level, the Chargers can drive the train straight to the top of the AFC West — especially with the Kansas City Chiefs’ struggles.
All eyes will be on Herbert on Sunday’s game at SoFi Stadium.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference