Chargers' Herbert getting crash course in close losses
Justin Herbert won the Campbell Trophy, nicknamed Academic Heisman, at the University of Oregon last year for his intelligence on and off the field. The quarterback receives a crash course with tight losses as a rookie in the National Football League.
Herbert was the first rookie to score four touchdowns in a Monday night game, but the Los Angeles Chargers squandered another 17 point lead in the second quarter on a 30:27 overtime over the New Orleans Saints. The Chargers, who became the first team to waste a lead of 17 points or more for two consecutive weeks since the Atlanta Falcons in 2003, have lost four times in a row by a combined lead of 18 points.
"Getting this close in the last four games hurts a lot," said Herbert, who made 20 of 34 passes for 264 yards. "I've been told that games have only one possession or less and I found that out very quickly. We have to learn to end those games."
Statistically, Herbert - who was sixth overall ranking in the April draft - held his own with three former league MVPs in Patrick Mahomes from Kansas City, Tom Brady from Tampa Bay and Drew Brees from New Orleans. But he also had to watch from the sidelines as all three of them brought their teams together from double-digit deficits.
The loss to New Orleans was similar to the Chargers' 38-31 loss at Tampa Bay on October 4th. In both cases, the Saints and Bucs managed to score just before half-time, while the Chargers couldn't muster much in the third quarter.
Although the defense has been unable to achieve double-digit leads in the last four weeks, coach Anthony Lynn was confident in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Lynn has shown that he is not opposed to changes. He fired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in the mid-season last year.
"You've done it before (got it going again) and I'm confident he can do it again," said Lynn, who is heading to his second 1-4 start in four years as Chargers coach.
Herbert continued to surprise coaches and commentators with his ability to complete passes under pressure and in tight windows. His first touchdown of the night, a 17-yard strike against Keenan Allen, had a final probability of 27.7%, according to the league's Next Gen Stats. The most unlikely end to his career came late in the fourth quarter with a 29-yard throw against Mike Williams on the left sideline with two defenders within a yard (21.6%).
“Our front seven followed him pretty well. He made a lot of great games on the track. ... He could be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come, "said Cameron Jordan.
Herbert has joined Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, Deshaun Watson, and Marcus Mariota as quarterbacks since the merger to throw more than 250 yards, four or more touchdowns, and no interceptions in a game. Jones did it three times with the New York Giants last season.
Herbert also kept up good numbers, although he doesn't have four offensive starters. Right duel Bryan Bulaga and right guard Trai Turner were inactive due to injuries. Austin Ekeler is in the injured reserve and Allen suffered a back injury in the second quarter and never returned. The upcoming Goodbye Week, postponed to this week due to a multitude of changes to the NFL schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, couldn't come at a better time.
Los Angeles missed sales for the first time since its first week win in Cincinnati but was unable to hold steady on the offensive. More than half of the 350 meters came in four games (179). The chargers were an average of 2.6 meters away on their other 65 games and were often behind the chains when they were trying to play big games first.
“I hate that for him. He hasn't got that first win as a starter yet, but he's played out of this world, ”said Hunter Henry, who had four receptions for 23 yards and one touchdown.
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