Chargers first round pick, Justin Herbert, wasn’t expected to play this week, but within seconds of kickoff, his coach, Anthony Lynn, informed him he was their quarterback against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Starter Tyrod Taylor had experienced chest pains in warm ups and was forced to go to the hospital. We are still awaiting word on Taylor’s diagnosis.
Maybe the quick turnaround from being named starter to actually playing in an NFL game helped Herbert not overthink his situation. Maybe he was just prepared and is good at football, but whatever the psychology of his first start, he looked like he belonged.
The Chargers defense has been a thorn in Patrick Mahomes’ side recently and that didn’t change this week, as they managed to bottle him up, at least to his lofty standards. That allowed Herbert to play in a close game instead of trying to catch up with Mahomes.
Herbert was 22-of-33 for 311 yards with a touchdown and interception. He also rushed for a touchdown. He joined an elite group of Otto Graham and Cam Newton of quarterbacks throwing for 300 yards and rushing for a touchdown in their first NFL start.
Herbert led his team to a lead or tie for the whole game, but Mahomes and company willed themselves to a win in overtime. Herbert wasn’t perfect, as his one interception came on a play he should have ran the ball for a first down instead of throwing across his body into double coverage. It was a rookie mistake and one that likely cost them a chance at points when they got none in the second half.
After the game, coach Anthony Lynn was impressed with Herbert, but he also said:
“I’m gonna wait and see what type of health Tyrod is in. He was our starter for a reason, and if he’s 100%, ready to go, he’s our starter. But I know that Justin can pick up the slack if he can’t.”
We’ll see how Taylor’s ailment plays out, but he’ll likely need to truly be 100 percent before getting a start after Herbert’s strong debut. Taylor isn’t going to turn the ball over very often, but his upside just isn’t there like it is with Herbert. Herbert get another shot sooner than later.