It’s time for the creme de la creme of the roster. The Golden Boy. Herbie Full-Loaded. Number 10 on the field and number one in your hearts.
The starting quarterback for your Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Patrick Herbert.
Herbert was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon where he was a multi-faceted student at Sheldon High School. As we all have see time and time again, he was not only a fantastic quarterback, but he was also president of the fishing club.
A broken leg near the beginning of his junior season cost him most of the year and didn’t do any favors for his recruiting process. Luckily, Herbert bounced back to put together spectacular senior season that saw him throw for 3,130 passing yards, 37 touchdowns while also rushing for 543 yards and another 10 touchdowns. Initially, most of Herbert’s attention came from FCS schools such as Portland State and Montana State. It wasn’t until later that Nevada and Oregon both became the only FBS schools to offer.
Being from Eugene, attending Oregon was the only correct option.
After entering the year as the backup behind Dakota Prukop, Herbert ended the season with seven starts for the Ducks. He set or tied single-game school records of total yards of offense (512), passing yards (489), and touchdown passes in a game (six). Despite that, the Ducks went 4-8 in what would be their worst record in over 25 years. Herbert ended the year with 1,936 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He also rushed for 161 yards and two scores.
Herbert entered the 2017 season as the starter for the Ducks and had his team at 4-1 through his first five outings but suffered a fractured collarbone against Cal that knocked him out for the following five contests. Oregon would go on to post a 1-4 mark through that stretch before Herbert returned to lead them to victory in their final two contests. In all, he threw for 1,983 yards, 15 touchdowns, five picks while rushing for 183 yards and five touchdowns in eight starts.
The 2018 season became first season in which Herbert started a full season. He led the Ducks to a 9-4 record and a victory in the Redbox Bowl. Now under his third head coach in as many years, Herbert managed set career highs with 3,151 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. He was named Oregon’s MVP and the Google Cloud Academic All-American First-Team Member of the Year.
Herbert saved his best season for last as he chose to forgo the 2019 draft to return and play one more year at Oregon. He led them to a 12-2 record, including a victory in the Rose Bowl, where he won MVP over the Wisconsin Badgers. He capped off his collegiate career with 3,471 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns and another four scores on the ground. Herbert earned his third selection to the Academic All-America First Team and took home the William V. Campbell Trophy, otherwise known as the “Academic Heisman.”
The Chargers drafted Herbert with the sixth-overall pick in 2020 to succeed long-time starter Philip Rivers. He was the third quarterback taken overall behind Joe Burrow (No. 1) and Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5).
Herbert entered his rookie season as the backup to veteran Tyrod Taylor. He sat out the team’s first game against Burrow and the Bengals with Taylor leading the team to a victory. Just ahead of their week two matchup with the Chiefs, Taylor suffered a punctured lung during a routine pain injection to his rib which forced Herbert into the start with only minutes to kickoff. He took the challenge head on and nearly knocked off Patrick Mahomes in his first career start. From there, Herbert proceeded to light up the NFL. He would go on to break the record for most touchdown passes by a rookie (31), previously held by Baker Mayfield (27), along with the most completions by a rookie (396) and highest passing yards per game average for a rookie (289.1). His final stat line also included 4,336 passing yards, 234 rushing yards, and five rushing touchdowns.
In Brandon Staley’s first season as head coach, Herbert threw for a whopping 5,014 yards, second only to Tom Brady in the NFL. The Chargers found themselves in plenty of shootouts during the year and it did wonders for Herbert’s numbers in year two. He threw for a career-high 38 touchdowns but also had a high mark in interceptions with 15. He led the Chargers to a 9-8 record and just barely missed the playoffs as they fell to the Raiders in overtime during a win-and-in Week 18 matchup. Herbert earned his first invite to the Pro Bowl after the season.
In year three, Herbert once again played under offensive coordinator Joe Lomabrdi. This marked the first time since high school where he had the same coordinator in consecutive seasons. However, the consistency didn’t end up paying off. The Chargers offense sputtered early and often, with injuries playing a huge role, as well. Herbert still threw for 4,739 yards, but his 25 touchdowns were certainly underwhelming for his third year as the starter.
Ahead of the 2023 regular season, Herbert signed a five-year, $262.5 million on contract to remain with the Chargers for the foreseeable future.
Years with team: 3
“Justin Herbert signed a 5 year, $262,500,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $16,128,376 signing bonus, $218,738,376 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $52,500,000. In 2023, Herbert will earn a base salary of $1,010,000 and a signing bonus of $16,128,376, while carrying a cap hit of $8,458,176 and a dead cap value of $137,960,876.” - Spotrac.com
Herbert’s ability to process the game in front of him at super computer-like speeds has been one of his biggest advantages as a NFL quarterback. He’s not often stuck holding the football too long which also benefits his offensive line in front of him. We’d also be crazy not to mention that he possesses one of the strongest arms in the NFL. The proof for that is in any given highlight reel you can find online.
At his core, Herbert is an introverted yet fiercely-competitive player who will do just about anything he can within his power to will his team to victory. His toughness cannot be questioned either. His grittiness to stay in after sustaining fractured rib cartilage in week two of last season tells you everything you need to know about what type of player the Chargers have at quarterback.
The biggest knock analysts have on Herbert is simply the lack of wins through his first three season, mainly referring to his non-existent postseason resume. He finally got the Chargers to playoffs in 2022 but the team blew the third-largest postseason lead in NFL history (27-0) to find themselves sent back home. The loss also spurred the team to fire their offensive coordinator.
Some may also point to Herbert’s interception totals through his first three season, as well. While he has thrown a handful of picks that left fans scratching their heads, many of his interceptions have come off the hands of his own receivers. When that happens, you simply cannot blame him for putting the ball where it needs to be as that’s all we can ask of him on a play-by-play basis.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?
He’s the starting quarterback of the Chargers until he decides otherwise. With Kellen Moore running the offense, many believe the best is yet to come for him. For the sake of the coaching staff, and maybe the front office, as well, here’s to hoping that ends up being the case.