Justin Herbert wants to be an all-time great, and he’s well on his way.
The Los Angeles Chargers sixth-overall pick took home the NFL’s prestigious Offensive Rookie of the Year award after torching the rookie record books for total touchdowns (36), passing touchdowns (31), completions (396), multi-passing touchdown games (10), games with 300 yards passing (eight) and three-passing touchdown games (six).
But the former Oregon standout isn’t settled with rewriting record books. Herbert wants to go from the league's top rookie to cornerstone NFL player in his leap from year 1 to year 2, and he’s looking to one of the football’s greatest legends to coach him through it.
This offseason, Herbert said he plans on reaching out to New Orleans Saints legend Drew Brees for tips on how to get acclimated to new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s scheme.
“I plan on doing that,” Herbert said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to watch Drew throw this past offseason and he trains with a lot of guys that I do… Drew is definitely one of the guys I plan to reach out to because he’s been able to do it all and everything he’s been able to accomplish I definitely want to do.”
Lombardi previously spent 12 seasons with the Saints, 10 as Brees’ quarterbacks’ coach before recently joining the Chargers. Brees also spent some time with the Chargers, where he was selected in 2001 and spent five seasons early in his career.
Now the 22-year-old signal caller hopes to get advice from 42-year-old Brees and other veterans this offseason.
“I’m going to try not to bother them too much,” he said. “I’ve got a bunch of questions about how to watch film, how to prepare for defenses. There are things that I can always get better at.
“These guys have had so much success. If I didn’t ask them, that’s on me. It’s an opportunity for me to learn from them. I’ll definitely be reaching out. I’ve talked to a couple of them already.”
While newy-hired head coach Brandon Staley was adamant about building a playbook around Herbert’s unique skillset, the Chargers superstar hopes Lombardi will bring some Saints-inspired offense to the new playbook.
“I think we’re going to take a little bit of that,” Herbert said of the Saints offensive scheme. “They’re also going to bring in some of their stuff that has been able to work. I think it’s kind of a mix and match. But a lot of the stuff that we were able to do last year, I think that will carry over.”
Chargers fans should certainly be encouraged by the rookie year Herbert produced in his first year out as a pro, but his sophomore campaign could be his most telling year yet.