Like we all expected, Chargers starting quarterback Justin Herbert has officially been ruled out for the rest of the 2023 season following surgery to repair the fractured right index finger he sustained during Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Easton Stick will now lead the offense for the remaining four games of the regular season. The news was first reported by NFL insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo.
#Chargers QB Justin Herbert is out for the season following surgery to repair the broken index finger on his right hand, per me and @MikeGarafolo. Easton Stick steps in for the rest of 2023.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 12, 2023
Coach Brandon Staley said they would do what’s best for him long-term. This is it. pic.twitter.com/pQf4rNYTQh
It was unfortunately coming to be a year to forget for Herbert and the Chargers offense. They were coming off a lop-sided loss to the Ravens where they scored just six points and by the end of the Broncos game, they had scored just seven more via an Austin Ekeler rushing touchdown. In the final three games that Herbert played in, he threw just one touchdown to two interceptions.
The Chargers have certainly dealt with injuries. Mike Williams has been sidelined with a torn ACL since Week Four and Josh Palmer hadn’t stepped on the field in over a month. Add in an offensive line that failed to improve — if not, regressed — from a season ago and you’ve got one heck of a task for any quarterback. By the end, before he fractured his finger, one would be justified in believing the year’s laundry list of negative events had finally gotten to Herbert. He hadn’t looked himself in recent weeks and certainly seemed off his game in the first half on Sunday.
Herbert will end his fourth year in the NFL with 3,143 passing yards and 20 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He was on pace to throw 26 touchdowns, just one more than the 25 he had under Joe Lombardi a year ago. His passing yardage was on pace for 4,098 which would have been his lowest mark of his career.
Even through all of this, Herbert was still the reason the Chargers even won as many games as they did this season. The team is doing the right thing by shutting him down and it’s now time to look to the future. But, I can’t help but feel bad for Herbert and his foreseeable future with the team.
With the assumption that Kellen Moore will not be the team’s play-caller next year should Brandon Staley be fired, Herbert will have had seven different offensive coordinators since he was a freshman at Oregon. Seven in the past nine seasons. That’s not how you build a quarterback for sustained success in the NFL. Do I think Herbert can potentially overcome it? Sure, but I’d like to see the history for NFL quarterbacks who had to learn that many offenses this early in their respective careers for comparison’s sake.
My guess is that it wouldn’t be fun to look at.