The Chargers Week 12 task is a tall one, as they aim to knock off the 7-3 Buffalo Bills and make it two wins in a row. Despite their records, these two teams have one thing in common and that is that they both have incredibly impactful quarterbacks.
As a result of the Chargers playing one of the better teams in the league, I have been asked to take a look at these two quarterbacks and compare them. Because when two of the leagues better QB’s face-off, there is a good chance we are about to see a lot of points being scored. Both quarterbacks have had ridiculous seasons and have established themselves as franchise quarterbacks and faces of their respected franchises for years to come. I’m going to take a look at how these two young QB’s have fared this season, and what we might have in store for us Sunday.
Justin Herbert is on his way to being an NFL superstar. He is more than the Chargers could have hoped to get in the draft and provides a skillset that Philip Rivers sorely lacked. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I am giddy at how he has produced this year, as I rightly predicted the Chargers should draft him and that he was an excellent fit for their system.
At the very least, he absolutely has the Offensive Rookie of the Year award locked up after an unfortunate injury to Joe Burrow. When I looked at Herbert as a prospect out of Oregon, it’s hard to imagine that he would have developed into a pro quarterback so quickly. Back before the draft when I analyzed his draft stock, I genuinely never thought that his growth could have been stymied that much because he played for an aimless college football team.
He truly seems to have flourished with the professionalism that being on a pro team brings. Herbert had it all in college; speed, throwing arm, accuracy, and he has brought that skill set to the NFL for an unprecedented rookie season.
Through twelve weeks of NFL action, Herbert has thrown for 2,700 yards, 22 touchdowns, and rushed for just under 200 yards. All while throwing just six interceptions, and he didn’t start the first game.
What impresses me the most is the multitude of ways that he is controlling football games. Herbert has a HUGE arm that opens up any offense and keeps defenses on their toes. When the pocket collapses on him (which due to a lot of OL injuries, happens a lot) he either finds running lanes or finds passing lanes while on the move. He generally just doesn’t seem to get flustered when defenses are zeroing in on him, with a poise well beyond his years.
He isn’t perfect and still struggles to get the ball out sometimes at the right moment, and can lock into his first option heavily before taking a lot of time to get through his progressions. Those are minor issues though as he is still learning on the fly.
I think the part of Herbert’s game that has impressed me the most so far, though — his ability to put laser throws into the tightest of windows. He always seems to find a way to put the ball in a spot where only his receiver can make a play on it. These are the type of tight windows that only last for a few seconds in the NFL, and if you can’t hit them, you really can’t expect a lot of long term success in this league. He isn’t afraid to take chances, and more often than not, he ends up succeeding. He gives his receivers the ground to go and make big plays for him. Which in turn breeds confidence in the entire team, believing their quarterback is fully under control.
As long as the Chargers can manage to not Charger up their QB, with what we’ve seen so far and the growth to come, they have a star on their hands.
Not a lot of people thought that Josh Allen would be producing the way that he is this season, or at any point in his NFL career. I am not one of those people. In fact, there was a small contingency online that believed that he could be this year’s, Lamar Jackson. Now an MVP season might be a little out of hand, but no doubt he has taken huge leaps this season for the Bills. Rightfully he has been a big part of their success.
In his first two years in the league, he showed that he had the arm strength for the deep ball and that he was a willing and able rusher. Rushing for more than 500 yards and 8 scores in each of his first two seasons. But this year, he has taken a monumental leap as a passer.
After averaging a 74 passer rating his first two years, this year he is posting a whopping 103.2. A leap in passer rating of over twenty-five points after two-and-a-half seasons is generally unheard of. The biggest change this season in his passing ability has clearly been his mechanics and footwork. Where he has found a small hop in his lead foot, allowing him to get torque through his back foot that he needs to create excellent points of release on his throws. His new mechanics as well as his natural talent running the ball have made him an improviser on the run that we hadn’t really seen from Allen leading up to this season. His understanding of NFL defenses, make multiple reads, and finding check down receivers has also improved quite a bit.
With that said, I do think there are a lot more holes in Allen’s game that can be exploited versus Herbert’s. Even with improved accuracy and mechanics, it still seems like Allen struggles a little bit to constantly deliver a clean catchable ball, as well as a good number of his passes seem to just simply be “lofted” in there.
A lot of his best plays this season as a passer also seem to come when his receivers make insane catches. Upgrading the talent pool around him was a significant step in improving his quality of play, but with John Brown out, I believe that removes a big dynamic in their offense. Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs are two of the better contested pass catchers in the league, but relying on your receivers to make tough catches does not seem like it will hold up in the long term.
My biggest issue with Allen this season, however, is that by a WIDE margin, a good chunk of his best throws are all coming off of play-action. You rarely see a sustained pass attack with him under center or even in shotgun. With the amount of play-action this team calls, it feels like it would be hard for a good coaching staff not to cue in on what makes him successful. This also signals a heavy reliance on the running game, which is at the bottom of the league even with Allen’s contributions.
Josh Allen has improved dramatically from the project that he was coming out of Wyoming and turned himself into a likely 10-year starter and first-time Pro-Bowler. I believe he still has some improvements to make as a pocket passer if he intends to be successful for a long time.
Everything said and done, these are two of the best and brightest young signal-callers the league has to offer. Herbert is already the better quarterback after 11 games to me, and his growth, with his natural talent, should see him leap and bound Allen’s potential. I also expect that Herbet is going to have a better game than Allen, but of course, football is the ultimate team sport.
Buffalo’s defense has been middle of the pack this season, but they generally tend to defend the pass a lot better than the run. And you can never expect Anthony Lynn to outmaneuver his opposing coaching staff. 27-17 Bills over Chargers.
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