During preseason, there was a lot of noise in the NFL surrounding Joe Burrows and Tua Tagovailoa. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Justin Herbert flew under the radar. Entering the 2020 Draft there were questions about his leadership qualities, the demeanor to which he holds him self. Questions like: ‘do his skills translate to the next level’ and ‘does he have the mental make-up for the NFL?’
In short, the answer is a resounding yes.
Herbert joined elite company after last week’s performance, becoming the only other player in NFL history to throw for at least 250 passing yards in each of his first five career starts, joining none other than the half-billion dollar man, Patrick Mahomes.
The rookie signal-caller didn’t make his debut till Week 3 after starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor had his lung punctured by one of the Las Angeles Chargers’ personnel. In his first five weeks as an NFL quarterback, Herbert turned heads by throwing for 1,542 yards and 12 touchdowns with three interceptions. He’s averaging 308.4 yards per game to start his NFL career and has now become the franchise quarterback for the team he grew up rooting for.
how it started: how it’s going: pic.twitter.com/xc5Puzixf8— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 8, 2020
Week 2 - Kansas City Chiefs (L 23-20 OT)
There aren’t many more daunting tasks as a rookie signal-caller than to face the reigning champions led by the top quarterback in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes. Herbert held his own through the entirety of the game, forcing overtime against one of the best teams in football. He shocked the football world by racking up 311 yards on 22/33 throwing with a touchdown through the air and on the ground. Unfortunately, his lone interception led to a rally from Kansas City.
His performance opened the eyes of not only Chargers fans, but football fans across the league. While the Chargers may have lost in his first game as a professional there has to be a lot of hope and aspiration for an organization that began the season trending in the wrong direction.
Week 3 - Carolina Panthers (L 21-16)
At home, once again, with the 0-2 Carolina Panthers coming into town, Herbert attempted 49 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown. The ball was put in Herbert’s hands the majority of the game as the Chargers tried to rally back form an 18-7 deficit at the half. His 49 attempts is the highest thus far in his budding career, but even in the loss, the sheer number of passing attempts show that he’s earned the trust of his coach and fellow teammates early on.
Week 4 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (L 38-31)
Herbert had his work cut out for him once again going into TOMpa Bay (or Tampa Brady, if you prefer) Week 4. In the matchup against the Buccaneers Herbert threw for his highest completion percentage of the season: completing 20 of 25 passes for an 80% completion rate. Herbert also set a season-high with a 137.9 rating and a 87.8 QBR. A QBR of 85.0, or higher is considered MVP caliber play as the former Duck threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort.
Week 5 - New Orleans Saints (L 30-27 OT)
most TD passes by a rookie in MNF history— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) October 13, 2020
Heading into Week 5, Charger’s head coach Anthony Lynn named Herbert as the official starter. Appearing in his first Monday Night Football game, all the talk was centered around the QB matchup: rookie vs. future Hall-of-Famer... again. Not only did Herbert trade blows with arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Drew Brees, he shined.
On the biggest stage with the lights shining brightest the rookie was 20/34 through the air setting a Monday Night Football record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie with four. He battled with an all-time great and nearly pulled out the victory, but the Chargers took the L in overtime.
Week 6 - Bye Week
Week 7 - Jacksonville Jaguars (W 39-29)
Herbert finally was able to get his first career win after he fought his way through the QB gauntlet facing likely three future HOFers. He threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns in his first career victory and posted a rating of 111.3. He didn’t get it done just through the air, in addition, Herbert ran for 66 yards and a touchdown on just nine rushing attempts.
The victory was a cathartic moment for the pro Duck, and hopefully it will be the first of many wins for the hometown hero.