The Chargers aren't going to into the season with questions at the starting quarterback position. Justin Herbert has answered all the questions and then some. It is about who will be backing him up this season.
There has been a heated battle between Chase Daniel and Easton Stick all of training camp. Some days Herbert goes first, then Daniel, then Stick. Other days it is vice versa with Herbert, then Stick, and finishing it off is Daniel.
Both have made good plays during camp. Both have made terrible mistakes during camp.
Daniel was able to start the first preseason game against the Rams, which he had a solid first half. Stick finished the game with good stats, but he felt more pressure from the pass rush than Daniel.
In-game two, Stick started the game, but it felt like they both received a heavy amount of pressure from the opposing defensive line.
"I thought they both handled it well," head coach Brandon Staley said. "I thought Easton in the first half was outstanding, avoiding trouble and keeping us on schedule, and then Chase gave us a chance in the second half."
Daniel is a veteran quarterback that has been in the league for years. This is his sixth team he has suited up for and his third go-around with his new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. They have history, and above all else, Daniel knows this playbook.
"I think every year as a competition, I truly have done that," said Daniel. "I feel like if I didn't feel like I was always competing for a spot if I didn't have that chip on my shoulder, right. I was undrafted 12 years ago. This is my 13th year, and I just feel like I still have stuff to prove. So, for me, it's no different. Just going out and trying to play the best of luck and trying to put the team on, I'm out there in the best position to succeed. I think I've done that so far this camp."
Stick was drafted in the fifth round in 2019. He has worked through some early mistakes he used to make and has improved. Not having preseason games last summer, but he has had some good performances during the two this season. He was also Herbert's backup last season for numerous games, so there is familiarity.
"It's honestly something I am not focused on," said Stick. "For me, it is just trying to improve. I know when I started camp, I just wanted to get to the end and feel like I was a better player. I think I am on the way to doing that. I think every time I have gone out there, I am feeling more comfortable. Every day at practice, understanding a little bit better what we are trying to do and why we are calling things."
The interesting part about Stick has been that he throws numerous interceptions during practice, and during the games, he has been nearly perfect. He has completed 81percent of his passes thrown for 148 yards and one touchdown. No turnovers.
"I think that a lot of those second reaction plays, they don't necessarily show up in practice because it's like, 'oh well, someone came three plays over we blow it dead,'" explained Lombardi. "In real life, it's not done until you get tackled. It's a little bit like we talked about the running backs. Sometimes you don't know exactly until it's live."
When deciding if players like Herbert, Joey Bosa, or Derwin James would participate in preseason games, Staley mentioned that their practices are much tougher than games, which means that the players will get more work done during their practices.
So, when it comes to the grading scale for both quarterbacks, will practice and games be considered?
"I think it's all a part of the evaluation," said Staley. "I think that context matters. The game environment for sure matters, but our practices matter because it's a little bit more of a pure environment. I think you factor in all of it, and when we get to the end, we'll have a huge sample size to draw from. I think that'll help us make an accurate decision."
Staley has been asked numerous times whether he will keep three quarterbacks or two. He says that this decision will be made at the very end. They could go with the veteran quarterback who has been in the NFL for years or decide that the young quarterback did a good job last year.
It is truly unknown.
Lombardi was asked on Wednesday which quarterback he thinks will start on Saturday night, to which he said he had an idea but didn't want to tell the media. So, three or two, it is still a toss-up.
Lombardi was asked what he wants in a quarterback two, which might be the answer to the puzzling question.
"Being able to get the mental reps, especially as the season starts, they get even less reps than they do during training camp," explained Lombardi. "So, being able to be ready, ready, if their numbers called without having all those physical reps. So, a lot of its visualization staying after practice and kind of walk them through the script, get to play with everything yet working with younger receivers on your timing. So, it's really a mental game for the guys."