Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert's rookie season has come to an official end after collecting the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award. It was announced on Saturday night at the NFL Honors ceremony when they announced Herbert as the winner.
He is coming off a record-breaking season throwing for 31 touchdowns (NFL rookie record) and five rushing touchdowns, which totaled 36 touchdowns on the season (NFL rookie record). He shattered expectations.
The Chargers rookie quarterback is collecting his second award in the last few days. Herbert was the third quarterback selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. He was drafted sixth overall from Oregon last April. The offseason was all virtual until the players reported for training camp.
Herbert came into camp as the second quarterback in the depth chart behind Tyrod Taylor. In week two of the season, Taylor suffered a medical emergency and was rushed to the hospital while head coach Anthony Lynn came over to the rookie quarterback before kickoff and told him, "you are in."
He played so well in his first three NFL starts throwing for five touchdowns and putting the team in a position to win games. Lynn named Herbert the starter the rest of the way. The team went 2-9 in his eleven starts but was still playing at a high level.
In the last four games, Herbert was able to win three of those on the last drive of the game, which is something he needed to learn for the future.
"He deserves it, man," said running back Austin Ekeler.
Herbert developed a good relationship with all of his weapons. Receiver Keenan Allen developed a quick connection with Herbert, which led him to tie a career-high in touchdowns with eight. The other receiver Mike Williams and Herbert took some time to develop, but towards the end of the season, Herbert was finding 81 often. Ekeler missed six games but was still a weapon that Herbert loved going to him.
It seemed like Herbert was competing with Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow for this award for part of the season, but he tore his ACL halfway through the season. Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson emerged as one of the best young receivers in the NFL, catching 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Justin Jefferson had a great year, but he ain't breaking all the rookie records like Herbert is and especially the quarterback position. Just for someone to have the success that early on in their career is just, I don't know, it's just so respectable around the league, just because we understand how crucial and how hard that position is," said Ekeler.
He gained a lot of support from his teammates like Linval Joseph, Chris Harris Jr., Joey Bosa, and many others. They said they noticed since training camp that Herbert would be special. He has a new coaching staff who is excited to work with him.
Herbert is a quarterback that gives a franchise and fans hope for the future. After the season, Herbert was asked about possibly winning this award, and he said it would be a community award because, without his offense, he couldn't have won the award. The humble young quarterback is happy to have earned his teammates respect.
"I knew back when we started throwing in the offseason, I knew we had a pretty special locker room, and whether it's Ek (Austin Ekeler) or Hunter (Henry), Keenan (Allen) and Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson, all those guys, Mike Williams, they're great guys. In the locker room, you love to hang out with them and to have their support. It really means a lot to me," said Herbert.