The Los Angeles Chargers may be in the hunt for a new head coach this offseason, but in 2020, they found their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert.
The former Oregon star took the reins at quarterback after a team doctor accidentally punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung in Week 2.
Herbert didn't shy away from his NFL debut, putting on a show for the ages as he became just the third player in the league’s 101-year history to pass more than 300 yards and have a rushing debut. He did so with confidence against the NFL reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs.
While Coach Lynn was apprehensive to let Herbert take command of the Chargers offense permanently, he proved Sunday after Sunday that he was a star. Lynn could no longer fight it, adding his decision to name Herbert the permanent starter was “driven by performance.”
In 15 games, Herbert dazzled in powder blue, gold and white while completing 66.6 percent of his passes for 4,336 yards en route to 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. The No. 6 overall pick in last year’s draft added 234 yards rushing with five rushing touchdowns.
But it’s Herbert’s record-setting season that earned him Pro Football Talk’s Offensive Rookie of the Year nod. The 22-year-old quarterback set rookie records in touchdowns (36), passing touchdowns (31), completions (396), multi-passing touchdown games (10), games with 300 yards passing (eight), and three-passing touchdown games (six). He fell just six yards shy of passing Andrew Luck’s rookie record of 4,374 yards passing.
Simply put, Herbert balled out.
“I think it would be a great opportunity for our offense,” Herbert said of the possibility of winning the award. “I don’t think it’s an individual award. I think it’s based on the guys around you.”
Pro Football Talk did note that there were other strong contenders for the prestigious nod. Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson set a new rookie record for receiving yards with 1,400 and Tristan Wirfs played a pivotal role in helping Tom Brady and the Bucs reach the postseason.
Herbert hasn’t officially ran away with the NFL’s official Offensive Rookie Player of the Year honor just yet. It will be announced virtually during the 10TH annual NFL Honors Presentation, which is held the night before the Super Bowl.
But Whether Herbert takes home the esteemed honor or not, there’s no denying he deserves recognition for his astounding achievements.
“He held his own, no doubt about it,” former coach Anthony Lynn said of Herbert’s rookie season. “I know he wanted to do better and he wanted to do more, but I was pleased overall with his development, his growth and I look forward to his future in this league. I think he’s going to have a bright, bright future."