The Los Angeles Chargers made a tremendous organizational pivot this offseason, parting ways with longtime quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers, who never missed a start since ascending to the top of the depth chart in 2006, holds every major franchise passing record, making the void created by his absence especially difficult to fill.
Though the Chargers won't officially select a replacement until closer to the regular season, veteran Tyrod Taylor will begin the process "in the driver's seat," according to head coach Anthony Lynn. Taylor and Lynn worked together at a previous stop with the Buffalo Bills, and the quarterback's ability to avoid turnovers -- his interception rate of 1.5% ranks behind only future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers for the best all-time among qualifiers -- represents a marked departure from Rivers' gunslinger approach.
Lynn has regularly touted Taylor's ability to run the offense, and other members of the Chargers have echoed those sentiments.
"I'm a big believer in Tyrod, too," tight end Hunter Henry said this week on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I'm looking forward to seeing what he's going to bring to us this year."
Henry has played his entire NFL career with Rivers as his starting quarterback. Accordingly, the adjustment to anyone will involve some growing pains. Still, Taylor has displayed a penchant for leaning on his tight ends in the past. During his Pro Bowl 2015 season with the Bills, he connected with tight end Charles Clay more often than any pass catcher other than Sammy Watkins.
Though Taylor will likely open the season behind center, the Chargers also added Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert in the first round. Herbert's size, arm strength, and athleticism give him a high ceiling, but he has admitted since the draft that he has plenty of progress to make with Los Angeles' playbook before he can take full advantage of his physical gifts.
Whether in 2020 or during a future season, Herbert will take the reins of the Chargers offense and show whether he can become a long-term answer for the team behind center. Oregon's offense didn't heavily utilize tight ends, so Herbert will have to make those adjustments at the NFL level. Still, despite those concerns, Henry sees why Los Angeles felt compelled to invest their top draft choice into the rookie signal-caller.
"[Herbert's] got a great arm," Henry said. "Obviously, he went in the first round, sixth pick for a reason. He's very, very talented. Obviously, the mental side of the game will be the biggest thing."