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Justin Herbert Leads Chargers Six Pro Bowl Nominations

The NFL released the 2021 Pro Bowl rosters yesterday and the Los Angeles Chargers earned six nominations: quarterback Justin Herbert, wide receiver Keenan Allen, offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, center Corey Linsley, edge rusher Joey Bosa, and safety Derwin James. Allen was voted in as a reserve, but the other five earned starting spots in the league’s All-Star game happening in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium in February. 

Five other Chargers earned alternate spots: running back Austin Ekeler (second), wide receiver Mike Williams (third), tight end Jared Cook (fourth), fullback Gabe Nabers (fourth), and defensive tackle Linval Joseph (fifth). The six Pro Bowl nods for the Chargers are tied for second-most in the league, trailing the Colts’ seven. 

This marks the first trip to the Pro Bowl for Linsley, Herbert, and Slater. (No, that’s not a typo for Linsley. This really is his first Pro Bowl berth.) Slater is one of only four rookies to earn nominations this year, joining Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, and Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. This nomination is Allen’s fifth consecutive honor. This will be Bosa’s fourth trip in his first five seasons, and James’ second in four seasons.

I think it’s safe to say we all knew Herbert could earn his first Pro Bowl nod in his second season after setting the world on fire and winning Rookie of the Year last season, but him earning the starting role in the game is significant. Through 15 weeks, Herbert is third in the league in passing touchdowns, fourth in passing yards, and third in completions. Two weeks ago he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 or more touchdowns in each of his first two seasons. He also leads the league in comeback victories and has the Chargers firmly in the playoff picture. 

Slater and Linsley have been everything the Chargers could have hoped for and then some. They had arguably the worst offensive line in the league last year, and these two players are clearly franchise cornerstones for the foreseeable future. I’ve been pounding the drum for Slater to be the league’s Rookie of the Year with how he has come in and been a dominant force at the sport’s second most important position from day one. According to Pro Football Focus, he is allowing one quarterback pressure every 26.6 pass-blocking snaps which is a fantastic number for an established left tackle let alone a rookie. He’s been arguably even more impressive in the run game where the Chargers are averaging 6.5 yards per carry when running behind the star rookie. 

After establishing himself as one of the best center’s in the league over the last few seasons in Green Bay and earning a first-team All-Pro nomination last year, Linsley finally earned his first Pro Bowl nod in his first season in Los Angeles. He has allowed just eight total pressures on the season, despite registering the third-most pass-blocking snaps in the league with 646. That means he’s allowing a quarterback pressure every 80.75 pass-blocking snaps. Of all the centers in the league with a minimum of 500 pass-blocking snaps, that is by far the best pressure rate. He’s been worth every penny the Chargers spent in signing him and has been a crucial piece in elevating the Chargers offensive line play, and taking things off Herbert’s play. 

Allen has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth time in the last five seasons and is eight catches away from surpassing 100 receptions for the fourth time in the last five seasons as well. He is fifth in the league in receptions on the season. He has remained a constant force on third down for Herbert and the offense and is third in the league in receptions that converted a third down into a first down. Per the Chargers, Allen became the fastest receiver to 700 receptions in terms of games played. Despite this being his ninth season, he has shown zero signs of slowing down. He is currently just 239 receptions behind Antonio Gates for the franchise record.

James has returned to form this season and has arguably been the best safety in the league again. He is the engine of the Chargers’ defense and has been making plays at an incredibly high level. Among safeties he is eighth in solo tackles, eighth in run stops, first in sacks, first in forced fumbles, and has also added two interceptions for good measure. 

Finally, Bosa who has really come on strong since the Chargers bye week. Since Week Eight, Bosa is fourth in the league in total pressures with 35. Brandon Staley has brought a real emphasis on attacking the ball on defense and Bosa has turned that into six strip sacks, which is the most in the league. He is three and a half sacks from setting a new career-high, which makes it a real shame he will miss this week’s game against the worst offense in the league. 

Obviously, the biggest snub on the Chargers is Ekeler, who does have a chance at getting in the game as an alternate, but he deserved to be voted in the game on the first try. He is fourth in the league in offensive scrimmage yards, trailing only Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, and Deebo Samuel who were all voted to the Pro Bowl. He is also second in the league in total touchdowns with 17, trailing only Taylor’s 19. James Conner, who is third with 16 total was voted into the Pro Bowl in the NFC but Ekeler has more than 300 scrimmage yards than him. In fact, Ekeler has more scrimmage yards and touchdowns than every Pro Bowl running back other than Taylor. You could argue that Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon are better runners of the football and you’d probably be right, but Ekeler is so much more valuable to his team due to his ability as a receiver. Chargers fans will have to hope he gets the respect he deserves on the All-Pro team that will come out in a few weeks.

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Steven Haglund

Author Steven Haglund

Hello LA Football fans! I am so stoked to be joining the LAFB team and get some high-quality content headed your way. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve been a Chargers fan since I was 10 years old when we traveled to San Diego and attended my first NFL game. I saw LaDainian Tomlinson score early in the first quarter and have been hooked ever since! I am also a contributing writer for Bolt Beat and the host of the Guilty As Charged Podcast. Bolt Up!

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