INGLEWOOD, Calif. — A lot less than a minute just before the opening kickoff Sunday in SoFi Stadium, Chargers mentor Anthony Lynn walked over to rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and explained to him he was setting up towards the defending Super Bowl winner Chiefs.
“I think he considered I was joking,” Lynn would say later on.
“I was stunned,” Herbert admitted.
From that a likely legacy was born. The Chargers may possibly have stumbled in the 23-20 additional time decline but they by no means blinked in component simply because Herbert confirmed the hype bordering his talent is warranted.
The former Oregon star, who was drafted sixth all round and shows a tranquil self-assurance that is as prolonged as his six-foot-6 body, threw for 311 yards and a landing and rushed for 18 yards and a rating. But in answering any inquiries about his means, at least for 1 activity, he established an even more intriguing query: Do the Chargers have a quarterback controversy on their palms?
Lynn reported afterward that Tyrod Taylor, who still left in the course of warmups and was taken to the medical center with “upper body discomfort” (the crew announced he has considering that been discharged), continues to be the starter “if he’s 100 p.c and prepared to go.” Probably that’s correct, but so is this: Heritage is unrelenting in reminding us that the sand in the hourglass empties immediately when it comes to remarkably drafted quarterbacks observing the subject. It is in no way a matter of if. It is normally a make a difference of when.
The NFL is cruel that way. It isn’t going to aid that the Chargers’ offense was underwhelming in the period opener at Cincinnati, scoring just 16 points while placing up only 208 yards via the air. The Chargers left Paul Brown Stadium with a victory, but they also ended up dogged by concerns about just how extensive it would consider for Herbert to be all set to move in.
Taylor has been as a result of this just before. In 2018 he was consistently affirmed as the unquestioned starter immediately after the Browns drafted Baker Mayfield No. 1 general. But when the offense failed to rating more than 21 points in the initially two video games and Taylor went down with a minor injuries in Week three, Mayfield took the subject and the beginning position for great.
If there is a big difference this time, it truly is that Lynn is an unabashed believer in Taylor. The two were being with each other in Buffalo in 2015 and ’16, when Taylor was 14-14 as the starter ahead of primary the Expenditures to the playoffs in 2017, the year that Lynn took the Chargers work. But loyalty can be a tricky factor. It may possibly win a mentor regard, but it can also charge him his career. Proprietors are often fickle to the whims of their paying out shoppers, if not their very own wishes. Taylor represents the protection of the recognized Herbert represents the assure of what can be.
Consequently, Lynn is wise adequate to know he will encounter remarkable headwinds if he stays with Taylor. If Herbert can look this very good on the shortest of see, with little to no very first-group reps in practice, imagine what he can do with a total 7 days of planning this coming Sunday against the -two Panthers. Herbert wasn’t just fantastic from the Chiefs at situations he was extremely good versus a Kansas Metropolis protection that dominated Houston and quarterback Deshaun Watson the past week. Lovers noticed it on tv, and, maybe more importantly, Chargers players observed it in person. Their postgame praise for the youngster did not audio perfunctory. It sounded foretelling.
“I like what I see,” defensive close Joey Bosa explained. “He has wonderful vision back again there. His arm was a minimal far too sturdy nowadays on a several passes, but I just really like what I’m looking at from him. He is got a great head on his shoulders. It is going to be thrilling to see him increase.”
“I imagined he had a excellent initially video game,” explained cornerback Chris Harris Jr. “I believed he performed with toughness. He definitely gave us a good deal of self-assurance that he can go out there and do the position.”
Herbert stated he was surprised but psyched when instructed shortly in advance of kickoff he would begin. He jogged onto the discipline as if it were just yet another recreation, instead of a minute he had dreamed about considering that he first suited up as a kid, and led the offense on an eight-play, 79-yard drive that culminated with his 4-lawn run. He took a tough hit at the pylon but bounced up as if he had done nothing far more than vacation in excess of his toes. At one particular place on the sideline, his boyhood jubilance arrived out as he smiled and reported: “Male, this is neat.”
It did not subject that starting off centre Mike Pouncey was put on injured reserve in the course of the 7 days, or that still left tackle Bryan Bulaga remaining in the initial quarter with an harm. Herbert was neither rattled nor concerned. He executed the activity approach as if it experienced been developed for him, relying on speedy passes and shorter completions to continue to be out of harm’s way. The a single time he did go deep, he was late delivering a shockingly less than-thrown ball to Mike Williams. Basic safety Tyrann Mathieu made up ground to bat away the ball.
Herbert was steady. He had only a single 3-and-out on his initially 9 possessions. He appeared seasoned, these as when he would slide to the still left or suitable in the pocket to generate space to make a throw. Or when he placed the ball on the inside to stay clear of a defender closing from the outside, or a further time when he completely dropped the ball beyond the trailing protection but in front of the cornerback.
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But just when he appeared experienced over and above his decades, he reminded us that he is even now a rookie who was creating his to start with start in only his next recreation. The initial time came early in the 3rd quarter, when he rolled remaining off enjoy-action and took a sack instead of throwing the ball away — or receiving it to the fullback who, following getting strike at the line, was open in the flat.
The next reminder was far more consequential. Close to the conclusion of the third quarter, on 2nd-and-two from the Kansas Metropolis 39, he rolled remaining and had a very clear industry to run. As a substitute, he threw deep versus his system, into triple coverage, in search of a huge enjoy from wideout Keenan Allen. End result: interception.
When he took a seat on the bench, Lynn walked around.
“I just informed him you never have to attempt to earn the recreation, just execute, just one play at a time,” the mentor claimed. “I felt like he had 8 yards in front of him on that next-and-two. He turned that down and was on the lookout downfield. I like that he was searching downfield and not seeking to run it, but that was a bad selection.”
Seriously, it was a devastating determination, as the Chargers, who appeared in finish handle of the recreation, have been driving to make it a two-score contest. As a substitute, the turnover rejuvenated the Chiefs, who went 95 yards in 6 performs to tie the score at 17 early in the fourth quarter. Tyreek Hill, who was invisible for significantly of the activity to that stage, obtained absolutely free for the 54-yard rating. He finished with 5 receptions for 99 yards and the aforementioned TD.
There was no stopping Kansas Town at that level. The Chiefs drove for subject ambitions on each of their upcoming two possessions, boasting victory with 1: 55 to go in overtime when Harrison Butker kicked his third industry objective — and 2nd from 58 yards. Patrick Mahomes completed 27 of 47 for 302 yards and two TD passes, but we have appear to anticipate that from him. He’s a recognised commodity. Herbert is not — or, should I say, was not.