The Justin Herbert Narrative You Need to Stop Listening to
Justin Herbert is one of the most popular and well-regarded players in football. It is very hard to come across an analyst or broadcaster throwing the young quarterback any shade. Instead, analysts give him praise and credit whether or not the Chargers come away with a victory. That is where the issue lies, whether or not the Chargers come away with a victory, Herbert gets credit no matter what.
Herbert hasn’t truly proven himself as many of the analysts give him credit for. Herbert has made the playoffs in one of his first three years, and he has yet to win a playoff game. To be fair, the Chargers were far from playoff quality in his rookie season, he doesn’t have that to fall back on in his 2021 campaign. Most people let his failure to make the playoffs last season slide as the Chargers were 29th in points allowed. As pathetic as that is, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In every game the Chargers lost Herbert threw a pick, just to reiterate, in every single one of his eight losses Herbert gave away the football. Justin Herbert threw 15 picks last year, 12 of which were in the Charger's losses.
It’s a well-known fact that turning over the football will greatly increase your odds of losing football games, he did it 12 times in their 8 losses, and that fact is miraculously glossed over. This problem didn’t translate as much this year, throwing 5 picks in their 7 losses and 5 picks in their 10 wins. Even though his interception problem didn’t translate as much, that doesn’t mean other issues didn’t arise. Justin Herbert is regularly given the title of clutch and I can’t say I agree with that. Justin Herbert threw 4 of his 10 picks in the fourth quarter and had a passer rating of 88.58 in the fourth quarter which was good for 20th best in the league.
Last weekend the Chargers played the Jaguars and managed to drop a 27-point lead. Did Herbert get a fair amount of negative attention for allowing such a comeback; no. Wins are a team stat, that’s not what I’m arguing against but, when you manage to put up only 3 points in an entire half of football, you deserve blame. I saw plenty of narratives that suggest Herbert did all he could. If “all he could” is throwing 10/19 134 yards and no touchdowns and a passer rating of 75.33 (which is only better than Zach Wilson) in the second half is “all he could,” he simply didn’t do enough. That is already a porous statline, but a good majority of those yards were after the catch on dump-offs. Herbert’s average depth of target (how far his intended receiver is from him) was a pathetic 6.1 yards. Herbert threw 9 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage and only threw the ball further than 15 yards down the field on 5 attempts, and in those attempts, he only managed one completion.
I believe Justin Herbert is a very talented quarterback; he has all the tools to be elite for a very long time. I just think the lack of blame and accountability needs to be changed.