All season long, Justin Herbert has looked like a longtime starting quarterback in the NFL for the Los Angeles Chargers.
On the season, the Eugene native has passed for 1,542 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just three interceptions in six starts.
But the Chargers have now blown four consecutive, double-digit leads of 17 points, 17 points, 16 points, and 21 points respectively. Los Angeles has lost three of those games.
None have been more egregious than the Chargers blowing a 24-3 lead with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter. Per ESPN's win probability, the Chargers had a 91.2% chance of winning the game prior to kicking a field goal to go up 21 points, and Los Angeles lost.
However, none of these losses have been Herbert's fault.
His stellar play gets the Chargers into positions to get these large leads. For example on Sunday, Herbert completed 13 consecutive passes. Included in that streak was all three Chargers touchdowns.
After taking a 21-point lead in the third quarter, Los Angeles ran the ball 14 times compared to ten pass attempts (one of which was a trick play where Keenan Allen threw an incomplete pass). Herbert also threw an interception while under-throwing Mike Williams in the end zone, but that was his only real blemish in the second half.
Herbert's offense did only get three field goals in the second half, but more aggressive play-calling perhaps could have had one of those field goal drives result in a touchdown, to put away the game.
But even then, an 11-point halftime lead with 17 points scored in the second half should be a win every time. It's the Chargers defense that allowed four Denver touchdowns in just a quarter and a half.
Also, due to Herbert's second-half interception today's game may be the blown lead that is his fault, the most of any of the poor second-half performances.
Against New Orleans, Herbert led a drive at the end of regulation which resulted in a missed, would-be game-winning 50-yard field goal as time expired. Los Angeles would lose in overtime.
Against Tampa Bay, the Chargers defense allowed four-consecutive touchdown drives in the second half. Also, when the Bucs first regained the lead, Herbert immediately threw a 72-yard touchdown pass but again the defense let him down on the following drive. Losing a shootout to Tom Brady isn't anything to get down on yourself about.
Additionally, against Carolina, the Chargers messed up a hook-and-ladder which would have resulted in a game-winning touchdown after a poor lateral as time expired.
Herbert is exceeding every expectation this season and appears to be a home run for Los Angeles who now has a franchise quarterback. Next for the Chargers is to learn to play with a lead and look into getting a new defensive coordinator, rather than put any blame on the rookie for these disappointing results.
Herbert's the real deal and while he won't be making noise late into the NFL season in 2020, he has all the skills to do so once the Chargers make some changes around him.