This season has had its ups and downs. The team's biggest down is they sit at the bottom of the AFC West with a 3-7 record. Their biggest up is the play of their rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. His play has been nothing short of incredible, his stats are tops in the league, and he continues to improve.
Herbert was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week because of the game he had against the New York Jets. He threw for 366 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly, his second victory of the season. His numbers have been through the roof this season, but he isn't focused on all that stuff.
"I think we've done a pretty good job of focusing on what's going on in this building and staying focused with the game plan, our opponents, and things like that," explained Hebert. "I think it's a sign of all the hard work that we've done as a team. So, any accomplishment that an individual gets, I think it's reflective of the entire unit."
The Bolts are coming off a close victory over the Jets. In the first half, the team started running a no-huddle offense, which is all too familiar with Herbert because he ran that at his time in Oregon.
He was very successful in running it, and last Sunday, it continued.
"I think it's really tough for a defense and it kind of puts them in a bind because I think the play calls get limited and being able to get up on the ball quickly," said Herbert. "It kind of tires them out sometimes, and you're hoping to get a specific looks."
Head coach Anthony Lynn says the numbers are impressive when looking at Herbert, but what he is most impressed with is the preparation of his rookie quarterback.
"It was actually coach Arroyo, Marcus Arroyo when I was at Oregon, he came in my sophomore year, and we devised the plan that for each game week, this is what I was going to do," Herbert explained. "I was going to watch this type of plays on Monday and Tuesday. Going forward, it's going to be red zone and third downs on this day, and we just had a plan. So, I've been able to follow that over the past couple of years. I think it's really helped me over these years as well."
The Bolts face their biggest test of the season this Sunday. Another playoff team. The Buffalo Bills are 7-3 and sit at the top of the AFC East. Their defense is what Herbert will be facing off against on Sunday. They are middle of the pack when it comes to defensive stats, but Herbert says sometimes numbers lie.
"They've had an incredible defense," Herbert explained. "I think they've gotten another incredible defense. I don't think they get enough credit for how good they really are. So, having another good protection plan, being good upfront, it's going to be solid for us, and we're going to have to do everything we can to execute on Sunday."
Before this year's NFL draft, there were comparisons between Herbert and Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Both are big athletic quarterbacks who have big arm talent as well. Herbert brushed the question off but did say this isn't his first time facing off against the Bills quarterback.
"We actually played, I think, my sophomore year in Wyoming. I had the chance to talk to him after the game," said Herbert.
Herbert led his Ducks to a 49-13 win over Allen's Cowboys.
"I think we've met a couple other times, I think maybe at the Manning Passing Academy, but he's an awesome dude," Herbert said. "Really have been excited for him over the past couple of years when he said when he said so much success."
Both attended the Manning Passing Academy as coaches, so both helped the younger players develop their game and showed them how to improve. This will be their first NFL game against each other.
Since getting to know Allen, Herbert has kept tabs on him.
"Being able to watch Josh has been awesome, and he's had so much success over the past couple of weeks," said Herbert. "I, unfortunately, haven't gotten enough time to watch him every week. I always catch up on the highlights. The way he's able to extend plays and read defenses is exceptional. I am going to be watching him on Sunday and just learn whatever I can from him."
After the Jets victory, Herbert, along with his roommate's fullback Gabe Nabers and guard Nathan Gilliam, decided to make a "victory brisket."
"First time," he admitted.
Herbert said he isn't much of a cook, so how did he prepare it?
"It was actually a Traeger recipe that I followed," said Herbert. "So that was the first successful one that we did. After the Jacksonville game, we actually started it, but because of the fires, we were evacuated, so we lost that one."
Was he surprised how well it came out?
"I was really surprised. I think the people that made it two were pretty surprised," Herbert said.
Even with the team sitting at 3-7, they still have six games left. Six more chances to get a victory brisket on Monday afternoon.
"It was a good victory brisket and looking forward to having more in the future," said Herbert.