Rookie Justin Herbert is Already 1 of the Best Chargers QBs in History
Every NFL team needs a franchise quarterback; while you can make do without one, it makes everything else easier when you have a legitimate star under center. At the risk of moving too quickly, it seems like the LA Chargers may have found their man in Justin Herbert.
Although Justin Herbert has only played a handful of games at the professional level, he seems to have the makings of a star. If nothing else, he’s already become one of the top quarterbacks in LA Chargers history, at least from a statistical perspective.
Justin Herbert put up impressive numbers in college
These days, Justin Herbert has become a household name among NFL fans. Prior to joining the professional ranks, however, the quarterback built up quite a resume in college.
Herbert played his high school ball in Eugene, Oregon, where he showed plenty of potential. During his junior year, though, the quarterback suffered a broken leg; while that scared off some big-time recruiters, the Oregon Ducks weren’t concerned.
While Herbert began his college career as the backup quarterback, he claimed the top job within a matter of games. He did enough to start his sophomore season as the starter; although he missed some time with a broken collarbone, he returned in time to help the Ducks qualify for a postseason bowl game.
As a junior, however, Herbert truly came into his own. The quarterback threw for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns, earning the Academic Heisman; he followed that up with a 3,471-yard, 32-touchdown senior campaign before entering into the 2020 NFL draft.
Stepping into the starting role by chance
When the 2020 NFL draft rolled around, the LA Chargers selected Justin Herbert with the sixth-overall pick. While he started out as the second quarterback on the depth chart, he didn’t need to wait long to get his chance.
Herbert was unexpectedly pressed into action during Week 2 when Tyrod Taylor was unable to start due to a “chest injury.” As ESPN’s Adam Schefter eventually reported, though, Taylor’s issue turned out to be somewhat of a freak accident; the quarterback had a cracked rib and had his lung punctured by the pain-killing injection before kickoff.
Regardless of those bizarre circumstances, though, Herbert played well; the Chargers came within a long, overtime field goal of beating the Chiefs. The rookie has kept playing well and, while it’s not exactly fair to Taylor, has kept hold of the starting job. Heading into Week 10, Herbert has thrown for 2,146 yards and 17 touchdowns; he also seems to have the ability to simply make things happen, which, at the NFL level, can separate the good player from the truly special talents.
Justin Herbert already looks like one of the best quarterbacks in Chargers history
As every sports fan can tell you, predicting the future is a risky endeavor; all the talent in the world is irrelevant if the injury bug strikes. Justin Herbert, however, already looks like one of the better quarterbacks in Chargers’ history.
With only seven starts under his belt, the quarterback has thrown for 2,146 yards, 181 completions, and 17 touchdowns; that’s already 16th most yards, 16th most completions, and 12th most touchdowns in franchise history.
It’s also worth noting, however, that we’re working with some fine margins. Say, for example, that Herbert throws 13 more touchdowns this season. That would bump him all the way up to seventh on the Chargers’ all-time list. That’s not bad for someone with less than a full season under center.
He’s also looking good from a single-season perspective. As Jason Reed explained for Bolt Beat, Herbert would break the franchise’s single-season passing yardage and touchdown pass records if he played a full, 16-game campaign while performing at his current rate. Considering that the Chargers have had the likes of Dan Fouts, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Doug Flutie under center, that would be quite the accomplishment for any quarterback, let alone a rookie.
At this point, it’s not clear exactly what the future holds for Justin Herbert. It’s safe to assume, however, that even if something unforeseen happens, he’ll go down as one of the best quarterbacks that the Chargers have ever had.
Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference and Pro-Football-Reference