Justin Herbert has been thrusted into the thick of the preseason MVP race over the past few weeks and of course those types of predictions wouldn’t be realistic if analysts and writers, alike, didn’t believe the sophomore passer would be in line for another big year.
If you’re Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report, you believe in Herbert like the rest of the country. According to his predictions for each quarterback’s 2021 passing stats, he expects Herbert to set career-highs across the board with 4,625 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also thinks Herbert will score another four touchdowns on 244 rushing yards.
According to Moton’s numbers, only eight quarterbacks are predicted to throw for more scores than Herbert.
“Last season, Herbert experienced the most hurries (85) in the league, so expect him to feel a little more comfortable in the pocket with an improved front line, which is a troubling thought for opposing defenses,” says Moton. “Herbert has a reliable veteran pass-catching tight end in Jared Cook along with wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. If dual-threat running back Austin Ekeler can stay healthy and big-play wideout Jalen Guyton progresses in his third year, the Chargers will remain a top-10 passing attack in yards and touchdowns.”
For those who think Herbert is in line for some major regression, I just don’t think the stars will align that way. Herbert’s regression will likely lie in his deep passing accuracy and ability to complete passes under pressure. But all of that is going to be balanced out. He has a new, vastly-improved offensive line that will keep pressure off of him and I don’t think he’ll have to rely on the deep ball as much as he did under Shane Steichen and Anthony Lynn. The passing game will be much more in the short-intermediate range with higher-percentage passes. Yes, there’s a chance Herbert doesn’t exceed his rookie numbers by a ton but he’ll more than likely be much more efficient throughout the year.
Either way, I think it’s safe to say a regression is not on its’ way.