By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com
Life comes at you fast, is a phrase Tyrod Taylor must’ve been thinking as recently as Week 2 of this NFL season. Seeing as Taylor was named the team starting quarterback in the off-season, understanding that the team had drafted a quarterback in the recent draft. Although he’s been in a similar situation with the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, this situation seemed different for Tyrod. His familiarity with the head coach and better chemistry with the players would’ve left anyone to believe that he was going to get an actual opportunity to start and lead this talented ball club to the playoffs this season.
In winning the team’s only game thus far in the season, Taylor endured a minor rib injury, during the game vs the Bengals. Before the beginning of their week 2 game, and their initial game at the new Sofi Stadium, a Chargers team doctor administered a pain-killing shot to Tyrod, puncturing a lung in the process. As excited as Tyrod was about the opportunity to lead a team into the NFL onto the playoffs, he would be sidelined and forced to watch another quarterback lead the team into battle.
Moments after the coin flip against defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week #2 Justin Herbert was told he’d be the starter in the game. Though he hasn’t won a game, he has been more than serviceable in the past three games against formidable competition than most people would’ve initially thought of. Leading the Chargers Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen to say this about Herbert when was asked, “He’s done a nice job. Completion percentage is at 72%, the ball is rarely hitting the ground and he’s standing in the pocket making some big-time throws.”
Justin Herbert has a 102.2% Passer rating and 931 yards passing so far this season, he has also become the first player with 1+ pass TD and 1+ rush TD in the first half of his NFL debut since 1954 (Bob Clatterbuck). Additionally, he’s become the third player to pass for 300 + yards and run for a TD in his debut and by topping the 300 passing yard mark in his second start. In doing so he became the third quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards in his first two games. Just as impressively in his third start, Herbert threw for 3 touchdowns, of 53, 19, and 72 in his third start, this made him the second-ever quarterback to throw for two scores of 50+ yards in a single game.
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton on Justin Herbert, “has been extremely impressive, he’s got very, very good arm talent, but it’s his poise and very good awareness with confidence relative to his protection. He has that rare talent to make some off-platform throws, where his feet don’t have to always be exactly set, more impressive is his ability to recognize he’s his one short and the ball has to come out.”
There were some thoughts of this game moving to a different City due to Hurricane Delta, per New Orleans Saints Sean Payton, “the storm appears to be heading west of them” allowing them to play in New Orleans. In this game Justin Herbert became the 5th rookie QB in the Super Bowl era to amass an 85+ passer rating in each of their first 4 NFL starts, the other 4 were Marino, Griffin III, Wentz, Minshew II. Each game Herbert continues to set new standards, in the game he has amassed the most pass TD (4) for a rookie QB on Monday night in NFL history.
Though Justin Herbert has been more than any Chargers fan could’ve expected, the Chargers are 3-13 in games decided by 8-or-fewer points since 2019 (most such losses in NFL in that span). When asked about Herbert’s recent achievements Head Coach Anthony was not in a celebratory mood and stated, “Justin made some good plays. I thought he executed, made some good plays. But we didn’t win the game so I’m too excited about complimenting everybody! But I thought the kid did some good things though.”
I also had to ask Coach Lynn about his conversation with his team about their terrible record of 3-13 in losses of 8 points or less, to that he responded by saying, “I never thought this team would’ve lost 4 (games) in a row, but I’d tell you I was on a Chargers team that did and that team came back fighting and I’d expect this team to do the same.”
Though he is very talented, the Chargers rookie quarterback still has yet to win a game as the starter. So, I wanted to if Justin felt comfortable enough to become the team’s vocal leader, and if so what is his communication to the team, “It’s going to take more than what we’re doing right now, it’s going to take 30 minutes more of stretching, watching the film, and weightlifting and little bits that will add up in the long run. I know we are really close. I know if we keep working hard and doing the right things, I know good things will happen.”
I was also interested to know about his communication with his big Wide Receiver Mike Williams who tied the team in targets on Monday nights. He told me in his post-game conference, “That was a designed play, anytime you see Mike Williams on the sidelines one on one coverage, I know I’m going to go to him because he’s one of the best in the game and I got complete faith in him. Anytime I put the ball in the air I know he’s going to go up and make a play on it.”
When asked about what’s been different about Justin Herbert in live game vs warming in training camp Chargers Wide Receiver also told me in his soft-spoken voice, “he’s very poised! For a rookie quarterback, not having a pre-season, and to go in their unexpected. He’s handles everything, he’s pretty poised in the pocket, and makes the rights checks and plays for the offensive.”
I predicted the Chargers to finish the season with a 9 win 7 loss record; 5 games into the season they have more than have the losses I’ve allotted for them. I can see them going on a run because many of the losses they are suffering do come down to a single play here or there. Hopefully, Coach Anthony Lynn will be able to finish the season out with a healthy squad and they can reach their full potential.
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