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Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on CBS, toe will meet leather in a matchup between two of the best teams in the NFL: the Chargers (4-1) and the Ravens (4-1). It will also be the first matchup between two of the best young quarterbacks in the league: Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson.
The two both have a mutual respect for one another, and Jackson spoke about Herbert during his press conference with the media on Wednesday.
“I really haven’t watched those guys like that, but I do see him on Instagram and stuff like that, flashing around, doing his thing,” Jackson said. “He’s a very talented quarterback, and he’s been doing his thing. Hopefully, it slows down a little bit when we’re playing against him. We don’t want to hype him up too bad this week. But he’s definitely been balling out — balling out of control.”
There certainly are similarities between how both were viewed coming out of college. Though he has a strong arm and an NFL frame at 6-foot-6, 236 pounds, Herbert was seen as inconsistent and unpredictable since he played in a gimmicky college offense at Oregon. That was enough for Herbert to slide to the Chargers at 6th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the third quarterback taken behind Joe Burrow (No. 1 Bengals) and Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5 Dolphins).
Ever since, Herbert has outplayed both Burrow and Tagovailoa, winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award last season. Herbert has been even better this season, completing 67.1% of his passes for 13 touchdowns and only three picks. He’s certainly been the heir apparent to Philip Rivers and then some for Los Angeles.
Herbert is a sure-fire MVP candidate, but so is his counterpart on Sunday. Though he won the 2016 Heisman Trophy at Louisville, Jackson had the old NFL narratives of “he’s just a runner” and “running quarterbacks never last,” which caused him to fall to the last pick of the first round in the 2018 Draft. Jackson quickly shut his detractors up though and won the MVP award in 2019 in his first full NFL season as a starter.
Jackson’s game as a passer has taken a huge leap this season. He has completed a career high 67.1% of his passes for eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also coming off a career performance on Monday night against the Colts, where he completed 37-of-43 passes for 442 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-25 come from behind victory.
Both of these guys are good. And just like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Kyler Murray alongside them, they will be carrying the NFL quarterback torch for the next 10-15 years.