Justin Herbert ‘wired’ to be a leader with Chargers, says head coach Brandon Staley


Nearly one year ago today, draft analysts and so-called experts had a lot of questions about Justin Herbert heading into the 2020 NFL Draft.  

Would his footwork and mechanics break down when pressure was on? Could he be a commanding leader when his team needed it? Is he a starter in the NFL?

After a record-setting 2020 Rookie of the Year season with the Los Angeles Chargers, Herbert has silenced his greatest critics.

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The former Oregon product re-wrote record books during his historic rookie campaign, finishing as the all-time rookie record-holder in passing touchdowns (31), total touchdowns (36), completions (396), games with 300-plus passing yards (eight) and games with three-plus touchdowns (six).

At an exclusive, virtual Select-A-Seat event at SoFi Stadium, Brandon Staley, who was hired as the Chargers head coach in January following Anthony Lynn’s departure, shared his early impressions of the emerging superstar


It didn’t take long for him to notice what makes Herbert so valuable.

“The definition of leadership is do you make other people better,” Staley explained. “Do you make the people around you better? Do you elevate their performance, and can you connect with a lot of different types of people? That’s another thing that I think is a defining characteristic of leadership and I think the way that Justin goes about it is so exciting because none of i'ts manufactured...

He’s so authentic and I think that that’s what people appreciate about him so much, and I think that now that he’s at the beginning and he’s been able to compete at this level and produce at this level, I think it’s only going to give him more confidence.

- Brandon Staley

In his first season, Herbert had eight games with at least 300 passing yards, surpassing Andrew Luck (six games in 2012) for the most 300-yard passing games by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.

The No. 6 overall pick also had five rushing touchdowns for a combined total of 36 passing and rushing touchdowns, exceeding Cam Newton’s 35 combined touchdowns for the most combined passing and rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.

Now that he has a year of experience under his belt, the Chargers are hopeful Herbert will be able to take a leap in Year 2. Staley is confident that Herbert has all the right assets including physical gifts, authenticity and football I.Q. to make it happen.

“With any type of player in the NFL, confidence is so important,” Staley explained. “For him to have been able to play like that, I think you know that he belongs and at the same time all the good players know that there’s so much work to be done because there’s a lot that each guy can improve on, and that’s kind of how Justin’s wired and that’s why he’s been so much fun to work with so far.”