Fans were stunned to see Justin Herbert take the first offensive snap of the game for the Chargers in Week 2. Both General Manager Tom Telesco and Head Coach Anthony Lynn both made it clear that they would take a patient approach with the 2020 sixth overall draft pick.
Due to a last-minute freak lung injury to Tyrod Taylor minutes before kickoff, Herbert was notified on short notice that he would be running the show that day. The rookie played admirably against the defending Super Bowl Champion Chiefs and was even named Rookie of the Week. He also became the first NFL player with a passing and rushing touchdown in the first half of his NFL career since 1954.
While the Chargers couldn’t secure the victory, the life that Herbert brought to the offense as well as the flashes of the future of the franchise enchanted many fans. While many fans seemed optimistic about the rookie and even called it a no brainer to start him the rest of the season, Lynn stood firm and named Taylor his starter as long as he was 100-percent healthy. Taylor isn’t and Herbert gets the nod again in Week 3.
Although it has only been one game, Herbert looked like he could be the future of the franchise. There’s no way to confirm his success quite yet, it is possible to compare Herbert’s debut to other some other relevant quarterbacks and see how he stacks up.
How Does Justin Herbert’s Debut Compare?
Herbert completed 22-of-33 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball four times for 18 yards and a touchdown. Other than an ugly interception, Herbert had an impressive debut.
1. Tyrod Taylor
It only makes sense to compare Herbert’s stats to those of the man he’s trying to replace. In Taylor’s first start with the Buffalo Bills against the Indianapolis Colts, he completed 14-of-19 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. He also added nine rushes for 41 yards in the win. Taylor was in his fifth year as a pro after backing up Joe Flacco for the previous four with the Baltimore Ravens.
2. Philip Rivers
With many fans upset with the decision not to re-sign Rivers, it’s only fair to compare the stats of both of their debuts. It’s also important to note that Rivers sat the first two years of his career behind Drew Brees. In Rivers’ debut against the Raiders, he completed 8-of-11 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. While this isn’t a crazy stat line, it’s worth mentioning that the Chargers won that game by a score of 27-0.
3. Carson Wentz
This is an interesting comparison because as a prospect, Herbert was often compared to the Philadephia Eagles’ signal-caller. Wentz was of the few quarterbacks to start the first game of their career. In his debut against the Cleveland Browns (a team that went 1-15 that year), Wentz completed 22-of-37 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. In a win against the Browns, Wentz was impressive but only completed less than 60-percent of his throws and averaged 7.5 yards per attempt.
4. Mitchell Trubisky
This is another interesting comparison because Herbert was often compared to Trubisky as well but not for good reasons. Trubisky was another quarterback to start his first game. In a loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Trubisky completed 12-of-25 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Trubisky completed less than 50% of his passes and only averaged 5.1 yards per attempt.
5. Dan Fouts
Both quarterbacks played at the University of Oregon and were/are monumental to the Chargers’ success. In his debut versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Fouts completed 11-of-21 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. This poor performance resulted in a 38-21 loss to the Steelers. Although the debut did not turn out well, there were better days ahead for this Chargers legend and future Hall of Famer.
So, what can we gather from these stat comparisons? Absolutely nothing. By comparing Herbert’s first start to that of legends such as Fouts and Rivers, and to that of more modern-day quarterbacks such as Taylor, Wentz, and Trubisky, we can gather that all quarterbacks played the game very differently. Wentz had a better debut than Fouts only goes to show that a player’s first start doesn’t necessarily dictate how his career will play out. Herbert only had one start and has shown glimpses of the future. It’s important that fans remain patient because mistakes are bound to be made. Fans should, however, remain hopeful and optimistic about Herbert because GOSH DANG was that impressive.