July 31, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Chargers Justin Herbert continues to pass credit and complete records

He had his two most-mediocre games back-to-back.

Then Justin Herbert came out Thursday against Las Vegas and completed his first nine pass attempts for 100 yards and a touchdown.

By the time it was over and the Chargers had outlasted the Raiders 30-27 in overtime, the rookie quarterback had another 300-yard, multi-touchdown effort and a 121.1 passer rating, his third-best of the season.

After being just so-so against New England and Atlanta, Herbert was asked if he thought teams might be scheming specifically to combat his skills.

“I think they’d be more worried about Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler, some of those guys who are tough in coverage,” he said. “I think they’re more geared toward that.”

Perhaps, but, either way, Herbert proved against Las Vegas that he is plenty capable of bouncing back, doing so on prime-time television in the NFL’s only game of the day.

As with blitzes, the spotlight doesn’t seem to faze this 22-year-old who has two games remaining to punctuate one of the finest rookie quarterback seasons of all-time.

Among first-year players, Herbert is tied with Baker Mayfield for the most touchdowns passes with 27, a mark that is likely to fall Sunday when the Chargers play Denver at SoFi Stadium. He also needs 27 completions and 594 yards to break single-season rookie records held by Carson Wentz and Andrew Luck, respectively.

Throughout the season, Herbert has deflected any praise and all talk about the brilliance he has displayed in 2020. Last week, asked specifically about setting rookie records, he did admit the idea would have seemed farfetched not long ago.

“It would have been tough to imagine that early on,” Herbert said, “especially not knowing when or if I’d play this year.”

For 14 seasons entering 2020, Philip Rivers was the Chargers’ starting quarterback. He is now with Indianapolis and has the Colts at 10-4 and deep into the AFC playoff hunt.

Herbert is 4-9 in his starts but, statistically, has matched well with Rivers. The rookie has more completions (353-331), yards (3,781-3,735) and touchdowns (27-22) and the same interception percentage (1.9).

Rivers’ passer rating is 99, and Herbert’s is 96.3.

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa made the Pro Bowl for a third time, although there will not be a game this season.

(Brett Duke / Associated Press)

Pro Bowl: Allen, Bosa

For all he has accomplished, Herbert did not make the Pro Bowl team. The AFC’s three quarterbacks were Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson.

Receiver Keenan Allen and defensive end Joey Bosa did make it for the Chargers.

The selection was the fourth in a row for Allen, who is third in the league with 100 receptions and needs eight yards to reach 1,000. Bosa has been a Pro Bowl selection three times.

Bosa’s status for the remainder of the season is uncertain. He’s in concussion protocol after being hurt against the Raiders. He missed two games in November dealing with what he said was the first concussion of his NFL career.

Lynn backed Guyton

Jalen Guyton’s route-running ability was tested plenty on his way to becoming the Chargers’ No. 3 wide receiver this season.

That’s because his particular route was quite circuitous, going from playing collegiately at North Texas to being undrafted, to being cut by Dallas, to spending much of last season on the Chargers’ practice squad.

But with every step, Guyton had someone very important on his side: head coach Anthony Lynn.

“He got me my opportunity, honestly,” Guyton said. “He’s had the belief in me.”

Guyton and Lynn are both from Texas and talked for the first time before the 2019 draft. After not being selected in the draft, Guyton signed with the Cowboys but was released before the start of the season.

In late October, the Chargers picked him up and he eventually made the active roster, appearing in three games.

Guyton entered training camp in August as one of a handful of candidates to be the next wide receiver after Allen and Williams, and won the job. He has 25 receptions for 468 yards and three touchdowns.

Along with Lynn’s belief, Guyton also credited Allen’s guidance for helping him develop. He called it a “tremendous blessing” to be able to learn from such an accomplished veteran.

“He’s got that coach’s understanding of the game,” Guyton said, “and he still has a player’s ability to play the game.”