Chargers rookie QB Justin Herbert impresses in loss to Chiefs
Right before kickoff, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn came up to his rookie quarterback Justin Herbert to let him know he was starting. The rookie quarterback said he grabbed his helmet and got ready to play in his first NFL game.
"I was really excited," said the rookie quarterback. "This is something I have look forward to my entire life. Sure it didn't end the way we wanted it to, but I think we made some big plays along the way."
The reason why it was late notice was that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was experiencing some chest pain before the game. Lynn told the media that Taylor was taken to the hospital and would have an update when he knew something.
Herbert started the game with the ball at the Chargers 21-yard line. He led his team down the field, making some good plays, and finished the eight-play, 79-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. He took a shot but got right back up and celebrated his first career touchdown.
"I thought he handled it well," said Lynn. "I think it is a great opportunity for him to grow as a young quarterback. He will get better."
A couple of drives later, the rookie quarterback drove his team down the field yet again. He got them down to the Kansas City 14-yard line, and it was third down. He snapped the ball and hit Jalen Guyton in the end zone for his first career touchdown throw. Herbert became the first player since New York Giants quarterback Bob Clatterbuck to have a rushing and throwing TD in the first half in their NFL debut, according to NFL Research.
The rookie quarterback showed that he is still a rookie quarterback in the second half, but the talent is there. On the first drive, he took a sack and faced a third and ten; he had a hand in his face but could still make a laser throw to receiver Keenan Allen for a 25-yard grab.
"Keenan made a great play," explained Herbert, "great catch on the ball. It is really nice to have him around, so I know having him on our side of the ball is huge. Thankfully he was there to catch it."
The team got a 41-yard field goal by Michael Badgley to finish off the drive.
The next drive, he drove the team down to the Kansas City 39 yard-line; he moved to his left-hand open lane but decided to throw against his body and was intercepted by cornerback L'Jarius Sneed.
"It would have been great to if I had just taken off running and gotten what I could have," explained the quarterback. "Unfortunately, I threw it, and it was a big turnover. You can't turn the ball over to a team like that and expect to get away with it. So it is something I will watch and learn from."
If Hebert had been able to get a touchdown on that drive, the Chargers would have been up 24-9 on the defending champs. He is learning.
"It was great to see 'Herbie' (Justin Herbert) out there," explained defensive end Joey Bosa. "I have been liking what I have been seeing from him. I think he is going to be a good player. He showed that today. Obviously, he made some mistakes, but we all make mistakes. For it being his first game, I thought he showed a lot of great stuff."
In the final drive of regulation, he had a 17-play drive that lasted over 10 minutes. The offense stalled at the five-yard line and had to settle for a field goal. Lynn admitted he thought about going for it but took the points instead.
There were some great plays made by the rookie quarterback. There were some bad ones, but he, along with Lynn, said they would watch the film and prepare for next week.
Lynn wasn't ready to announce the rookie the starter for next week just yet.
"We are going to wait and see," said Lynn. "I am not going to answer that question. I am going to wait and see what kind of health Tyrod Taylor is in. He was our starter for a reason. If he is 100 percent ready to go, he is our starter, but I know Justin can pick up the slack if he can't."
Taylor's health is going to be something to monitor this week heading into the game against the Carolina Panthers. If Taylor cannot go, the team now knows what it has in the rookie quarterback who finished passing for over 300 yards and spread the ball to six different receivers.
The rookie did feel what it was like to take his first loss in the NFL, but he said it is fuel.
"It is adversity," said the rookie quarterback. "I know we will learn from it. In the long run, I think it is going to help us. It might stink now. It is definitely tough. We would have loved for the game to go our way, but it didn't, and we can't do anything about it now. We are going to watch the film, get better, and next time we know what we have to do."