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Justin Herbert keeps Chargers QB situation in top half of the NFL

Another season of praying and keeping out fingers crossed in on tap.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Justin Herbert has played in one game shy of a season’s worth of contests and he’s already being held as one of the best, young quarterbacks in the NFL. That’s what happens when you break almost every record imaginable for a rookie passer while putting your name up there in other notable areas alongside guys like Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees.

However, despite Herbert’s incredible buzz and momentum heading into the 2021 season, his presence alone isn’t enough to hoist the Chargers’ quarterback into the upper echelon of the NFL. In a new set of rankings by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Bolts come in at #14, stuck between the Vikings (#13) and Cardinals (#15).

“If we were basing things on 2020 statistics alone, the Los Angeles Chargers would be further up this list,” states Knox. “Quarterback Justin Herbert was fantastic as a rookie, throwing for 4,336 yards with 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 98.3.”

“However, Herbert only has 15 games of experience under his belt, and we’ve seen standout rookies falter in Year 2 before. Baker Mayfield also had a record-setting rookie campaign only to flounder in his second season. Like Mayfield did in 2019, Herbert will have to adjust to a new coaching staff in Year 2.”

While this is true, I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare the likes of Freddie Kitchens to Brandon Staley. Also, the offensive coordinator for that lone season was Todd Monken who struggled to get the Bucs over the hump as their OC in the years prior. I think confidence will be much higher for Joe Lombardi coming from New Orleans where he worked with Drew Brees and Sean Payton.

“Still, Herbert played like a legitimate franchise quarterback last season. He ranked 12th in quarterback rating and 15th in completion percentage (66.6) among qualifying starters. At no point did he appear overwhelmed by the speed and talent of the NFL game.”

“It will be exciting to see how Herbert develops under new head coach Brandon Staley, and L.A. has a fine insurance policy in Chase Daniel. While Daniel only has five career starts on his resume, he’s been in the league for 11 seasons and has been around veterans like Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Matthew Stafford.”

Getting ranked at 14th may seem low but the Bolts are likely right where they should be. Knox knows how good Herbert was in 2020 but just one year does not a star make. Keeping your feelings reserved on Herb while also noting Daniel’s lack of real starting experience in his past makes this a much easier ranking to digest.

After another good year, however, this will be a whole different conversation.