Justin Herbert is one of the best players to ever wear an Oregon Duck uniform, regardless of sport.
His impact on the school, and of course more specifically the football program, is encapsulated during his 2019 season. Which included the team winning their most games (12) since 2014 and also their first double-digit winning season since then. Their historic run had the Ducks quacking to the Rose Bowl and winning it against Wisconsin.
Herbert cemented himself as a school legend in his final season before heading to the NFL.
A season in which left memories for thousands and impacted the lives of an uncountable amount.
Despite his play during his senior season, there were still questions on how he would adapt to the NFL game.
“Can he be a leader?”
“How will his arm be?”
“Is he going to panic under pressure?”
On the latest episode of the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast, former Duck and current NFL free agent Kenjon Barner joined the show to discuss Herbert.
"I talk about Herbert every chance I get,” Barner said. “Just because of Herbert’s beginning. Not at Oregon, but his beginning in the NFL. The process and the road that he took and traveled. With everybody saying what he wasn’t gonna be and couldn’t be. Don’t get me wrong, Herb had an up and down year. To where he definitely looked like a top-five pick and there were some games you’re like, ‘I don’t know’ -- I think anyone with eyes can acknowledge that and Herbert acknowledged that."
In only one NFL season, Herbert answered the questions and made people question themselves for even thinking of such.
Although he had struggles, they weren’t much of an issue. His skills were on full display, propelling him to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, after setting numerous league rookie records -- touchdowns by a rookie QB (36), completions by a rookie QB (396), and passing TDs by a rookie QB (31). Not only did Herbert quell any questions on his arm and leadership, but he also answered any doubt on his performance under pressure. He led the league in passing yards under pressure (1,113), passing touchdowns under pressure (nine), and finished with the third-most completions under pressure (81).
Simply put, he didn’t play like a rookie.
“To come in as a rookie, in the division that he came in, and to play against the competition that he played against, and to perform the way that he performed, man, it’s special,” Barner said. “The only thing you can say is he had the greatest rookie season in NFL history. I think that pretty much summed it up. The key to success and the key to status in the NFL is longevity and consistency. That’s the key to what Herb has to do.”
The questions now are:
“Can he do it again?”
“Will he regress?”
Herbert is fully aware of the pressure is on him. Similar to Barner though, many people are optimistic about the positives of what he could become. Only time will tell on Herbert, and the thousands that watched him at Oregon will continue following him, and probably hoping he eclipses what he did a season ago.