Panthers' Staff Impressed with Chargers Rookie QB Justin Herbert
When the Carolina Panthers kickoff against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, they will be facing off against the 6th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Chargers' plan was to keep Tyrod Taylor as the starter for much of the season, if not the entire season, before turning the reigns of the offense over to the youngster out of Oregon. Unfortunately, Tyrod Taylor was unable to play this past Sunday vs the Kansas City Chiefs after a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung while administering a pain-killing injection to his cracked ribs, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Herbert was thrust into action and performed really well. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards with one touchdown and one interception a piece and nearly led the Chargers to a win over the defending Super Bowl champions.
Carolina Panthers Defensive coordinator Phil Snow really liked what he saw in Herbert and even went as far as saying he was a guy they were considering drafting back in April.
"We spent a lot of time studying him, with thoughts of maybe drafting him. We put a lot of time into him last year so we studied him a lot," Snow said. When asked about his evaluation of Herbert's first NFL start, Snow was very impressed to say the least. "I thought he was pretty composed. He did throw one interception that hurt him, but he threw for 311 yards and I thought he did real well and he probably didn't even expect to play in the football game and to go in and to play the way he did, I thought he did a great job."
Head coach Matt Rhule also complimented Herbert and said he was very impressive during the draft process. "Justin is a really, really smart guy just from the draft process, has a great arm, can run 4.5, he's a great athlete, big powerful guy. You watch him in his first start and he goes and plays at a really high level so he's a special young talent and is a person I have a lot of respect for."
Just like the Panthers have to adjust their offense without Christian McCaffrey, the Chargers will have to make some slight adjustments to their offense with the rookie Herbert running the show. The problem for the Panthers? There's virtually no game tape on him, since there was no preseason and he only has one NFL game under his belt. With that said, Rhule believes the Chargers offense is suited for Herbert to succeed and doesn't think it will look much different from what they ran when Tyrod Taylor started in week one.
"I think we're going to just have to base it off of what see off the tape and with what they did when he got in there," Rhule said. "We'll have to really kind of hone in on specific things they did with him, but they have their offense and their offense has a lot of things that you see in college football in it. It's got a lot of speed sweeps, zone reads, speed options - things that we saw on the Big 12, things that you see on Saturdays. Those are things that obviously he did at Oregon as well. I think the offense as it is is what they were doing with both Tyrod [Taylor] and he and this is an offense that he is probably very comfortable in from his time at Oregon."
One would think that this may be a good opportunity for the Panthers defense to get back on track and play fundamentally sound football, which also means generating a pass rush of some sort. Carolina has struggled to get to the quarterback in the first two weeks of the season and although it might make sense to get aggressive and go after an inexperienced quarterback, it doesn't necessarily apply to this situation - a team that can eat you up if you do blitz.
"A lot of people don't blitz this team and they've had some issues when they do blitz. They have a lot of screens that can bother you. You look at Kansas City last week, Herbert is in there and they blitzed hardly at all and normally they pressure. Each week is a little different in your approach in when you blitz, so we'll have to see what their gameplan is," Snow said. "Anytime that you don't get sacks in a ball game, it's concerning. It's really interesting because sacks in college really relate to winning and in the NFL, it's more pressures on the quarterback that does. But, we've got to start being around the quarterback a little bit more and it is a concern and we're trying to do some things schematically and technically and hopefully we get better each week."
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