Three seasons into his NFL career…unwanted trends have appeared.
Justin Herbert joined the Los Angeles Chargers back in 2020 as a first-round draft pick. Three seasons into his NFL career…unwanted trends have appeared. There’s a real possibility that he’s better than the franchise. Does he need to move on to not waste his career?
While NFL fans, purists, and analysts can chew the fat on whether or not the quarterback role is the MOST IMPORTANT position on the field or not, the fact remains you need a decent one to have any success. Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Josh Allen are all top QBs at top clubs challenging for the NFL's top prize. They are the top three-rated quarterbacks as of 2023. Justin Herbert is fourth on the same list. Yet, the Los Angeles Chargers are a bit further off the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. In the same article, it’s noted that ‘winning’ isn’t a QB stat, subsequently, Herbert can’t be judged but losing sure doesn’t make Herbert want to stick around.
It’s hard to define the exact cause with so many moving parts but inconsistent receivers and a change in head coach have led to a few unsettled attributes at the franchise. While the six Pro Bowlers from the 2021 season (including Herbert) are still on the roster, are they still good enough for the upcoming season? After all, only one of them made it to the proceeding Pro Bowl.
Between the contemporary general manager, Tom Telesco, and head coach, Brandon Staley, neither wants to admit that something is wrong. The reinforcements acquired for the 2023 season are tame at best and don’t look like any drastic change to turn the Charger's fortunes out of the ‘middle of the pack’ pile. This is a setup that looks comfortable in finishing with a 9-8 or maybe a 10-7 record, anything else would require a sterner look on personnel. It’s this lack of problem identification or uninterest to make the team any better which is the primary problem.
Anyone who watched the build-up to the 2020 NFL draft will know the backstory of Herbert and how he dreamed of playing and winning the Rose Bowl with the Oregon Ducks. He became the MVP of the 2020 edition, as the Ducks won 28-27 in a nail-bitingly close game. In a way, that was all Herbert talked about…even after getting drafted into the NFL.
The LA Chargers as a franchise is probably too comfortable for him. He’s done everything he wanted playing for his hometown team and now… he’s picking up a comfortable pay packet in a very desirable city. He’s got everything a 25-year-old could want. Given he’s not made the team a serious contender just yet, how long is it going to take?
If he was in a colder climate with fewer amenities, it might be that he would have more time to study his game and commit to making himself better. Could a change in locale re-ignite the fire in Herbert?
Let’s say on the eve of the new season, Herbert gives everything to the Chargers. Extra sessions, extra film. If they win the Super Bowl, that’s hunky dory, or even if they go better than 10-7 and make a decent imprint in the postseason. Yet, if no progress is made and he continues to put the team on his back, he needs to move ASAP. He’s already committed enough time to the franchise and while 20+ year careers with a single franchise do happen, this just might not be the right fit for Herbert and a clean break at the end of his 2024 rookie contract would benefit everyone.