I’m a glass half-full kinda guy. And because of that, I’ll say that Los Angeles Chargers rookie QB Justin Herbert looked pretty, pretty good on Sunday afternoon against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Not great, but absolutely certainly not bad. The Chiefs know that. I know that. You know that. Even Vegetable Lasagna knows it (I see you, Seinfeld fans).
The former Oregon Ducks signal-caller was labeled as “not a first-round” pick by some “draft pundits” during the NFL draft process, but he quickly squashed those with some pinpoint accurate throws and plus-athleticism that led to his first NFL touchdown, a six-yard scamper on a designed option in the red zone.
Sure, he had a bone-headed interception in the third quarter, but that’s a fixable mistake over the course of his NFL career. Slowly, he’ll start to realize that he can’t make cross-body, downfield throws into double coverage.
Also — that sounds so simple to avoid when you type it, read it or even think about it — just try telling that to a 22-year-old kid making his first start against the defending world champs whom he is currently leading in the second half, OK.
Situations don’t excuse mistakes and rather, one mistake shouldn’t squash an outwardly impressive performance as he was thrust into the starting lineup just ahead of the game.
Overall, Herbert’s performance led people to believe the long-term answer at quarterback is indeed in the room.
He finished the day completing 22-of-33 passes for 311 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Herbert added four carries for 18 yards and another score.
He attacked all levels of the field in this game as well, showing off the impressive arm strength that saw him carve up Pac-12 defenses the past four years.
He hit two of five attempts targeted deep (20+ yards past the line of scrimmage) for his touchdown and 39 yards, despite the interception.
He was impressive to the intermediate range as well, completing four of six passes for 77 yards while he also showed that he could take something off and work the short game with ease too. The middle of the field, again despite the interception, was worked with ease. Between the numbers, he hit 8-of-11 passes for 130 of his yards.
As bad as Herbert’s interception was, there was enough good sporadically and placed throughout the performance, it gives much hope for the future at the position.
Also giving hope for the future was young running back Joshua Kelley, who carried the ball 23 times for 64 yards. While he was kept out of the end zone unlike his pro debut a week ago, he still saw the lion’s share of carries and was impressive enough to keep the ball from Austin Ekeler at times. These two are developing into quite the 1-2 punch.
Then there was gadget receiver Joe Reed who carried the ball once for eight yards and churned out another 85 yards on kick returns.
Rookie first-round pick Kenneth Murray was also impressive in all facets of the game against KC. He led the team with 10 combined tackles and was at his best in coverage where he saw three passes into his coverage, allowing just two for a mere 29 yards with a PBU to his credit.
All in all, there’s hope. There’s hope that Herbert can continue the bright spot that was all but seemingly one pass while ironing out the details of a few other minor missteps. Hope that Kelley and Ekeler can stay the course. And hope that Murray continues to develop into a fine three-down linebacker to patrol sideline-to-sideline.
And hope is good.