Justin Herbert’s first career start for the Los Angeles Chargers was a complete shock. After a freak accident sidelined Tyrod Taylor in Week 2, the rookie first-round pick was thrown into action with only minute’s notice.
Who was his opponent? The Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl champs and the best team in the league.
Herbert performed admirably in that 23-20 overtime loss. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 311 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also added 18 yards and another score on the ground. It was a performance that left many believing in his future.
Since then, the Oregon product has not disappointed. The win-loss column could use some work, but that is exactly what Los Angeles is doing. The team in currently on a three-game win streak, and Herbert continues to put up numbers.
But his improvement goes beyond the numbers. He’s got a much better command of the offense.
“He doesn’t handle himself like a rookie,” said Reid, via Charger Report. “He is a smart kid and a good leader. You look at the product, and then his body language when he’s out there and the command that he has. It’s like he’s a veteran.”
He’s totaled 4,259 yards (4,034 passing, 225 rushing) and 32 touchdowns while tossing 10 interceptions. Has he been perfect? No, but there is real promise here.
Now, he will look to close his first season as strongly as he began it. And once again, the opponent will be the Chiefs, who are now 14-1. Of course, the matchup won’t include a Herbert-Patrick Mahomes quarterback battle this time around, but this game is more about Hebert.
He has proven to be a viable Rookie of the Year candidate, especially with the season-ending injury to No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. Herbert can help lead his team to a four-game win streak to close the year, and in the process, take home the award.
The future is bright.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.