(CBSLA)- The Chargers return to the field this Sunday following their bye last week with a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the teams entering with records of 1-4 and 1-5 respectively, it’s hard to say this will be one of the best games of the weekend. But, it will offer another chapter in the Justin Herbert era and another opportunity to earn his first NFL win as a starter.
Herbert has been the topic of discussion around the team since making the surprise start in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The rookie has thrown for over 1,100 yards in the past four games tossing nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Four of those TDs came in a 30-27 Monday night loss to the Saints right before the bye.
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While the wins have not yet come, Herbert’s play has impressed the NFL community giving hope to fans that the team has found it’s next franchise guy.
“What struck me, we saw him in person down in Tampa, going up against Brady and all that comes with that. And, his poise and pocket awareness was not something that I saw discussed a lot during the pre-draft process because he is such a great athlete,” said NFL on CBS reporter Evan Washburn in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “The discussion was, ‘oh man when things break down he’s just going to tuck it and run like Cam or Josh Allen in a lot of ways. But, he felt the rush, and he has continued to do this, kept his eyes down field and made some gorgeous throws down field and really ignite some big plays. That is what struck me.”
Herbert’s numbers back that up. His percentage of on target throws, as measured by Pro Football Reference, is 78.8% which ranks 11th in the league while having the highest pressure rate in the league, pressured on 31.3% of drop backs. In many cases, that kind of pressure on a rookie quarterback would speed up their decision making. So far, Washburn hasn’t seen evidence of that. As he points out, there have been ups and downs, but not the level you would expect.
“It is all still moving so fast for him but it is not reflected in a lot of the decision making. By no means has he been perfect. He’s made some poor throws and some poor reads. But not to the degree that you would have thought for a guy who was literally thrown into his first game :30 seconds before first kick,” said Washburn. “He’s played well enough for them to win a lot of these games and he’s doing it with a lot of guys banged up around him. Couldn’t be more impressed and excited to see what he does this week and moving forward with L.A.”
This week, Herbert will face a Jaguars defense that ranks middle of the pack in getting pressure on quarterbacks this season with a rate of 23.1%. But, there is pass rushing talent there with defensive ends Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot and rookie K’Lavon Chaisson.