When an NFL team drafts a quarterback in the top 10 of the first round, there are certain expectations that come with that selection.
Indeed, a high-profile signal caller is not only expected to deliver eye-popping stats and a winning record, but he’s also supposed to be the team leader and the face of the franchise.
While several have thrived under that type of pressure (Peyton Manning, Patrick Mahomes), just as many have been fatal failures (Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell). So in many ways, it’s literally a crapshoot when it comes to placing the faith of a franchise in a fresh-faced footballer.
This offseason, staring at the inevitable departure of longtime stalwart Phillip Rivers, the Los Angeles Chargers were facing that same type of crossroads. Rivers had been one of those top-10 QB picks who actually panned out, having put up big numbers for the team since being taken fourth overall out of NC State in 2004.
While the 15 years that followed were statistically pleasing, Rivers never managed to take the Chargers to the Super Bowl. In the meantime, the franchise faced the difficult task of relocating from San Diego to Los Angeles, where they have been seen as the poor, sick cousin of the newly returning L.A. Rams. It didn't help much that the Rams went to Super Bowl within a couple of years of their triumphant homecoming to Tinseltown.
Chargers Make Justin Herbert Their Top Pick
Enter Justin Herbert, the golden-armed quarterback from the University of Oregon who the Chargers chose to replace their now departed, all-time leading passer.
Justin Herbert, the 6'6" gunslinger who threw for over 3,400 yards and 32 touchdowns and led the Ducks to victory in the 2020 Rose Bowl, certainly looked the part. He was 29-14 as a starter in college, and quickly became the Chargers’ starter when perennial seat-warmer Tyrod Taylor went down in Week 2 due to injury.
Justin Herbert has established himself quickly and appears to be a great pick for the Chargers. Despite multiple players going down on the offensive side of the football, the rookie has shown poise amidst the team’s 1-4 start.
While the team will experience some growing pains for his first couple of seasons, Justin Herbert displayed glimpses of the future during L.A.s' "Monday Night Football" game against the New Orleans Saints. Facing a legendary quarterback in Drew Brees and a defense that is expected to help the Saints make a deep playoff run, Justin Herbert stood tall, throwing four touchdown passes, including a 64-yarder to Mike Williams.
The Chargers lost the game on an overtime field goal, but Justin Herbert gave fans a flash of hope for years to come, right there on the primetime stage.
As Justin Herbert begins to emerge as a bona fide star, he will lend an identity to the Chargers that they desperately need in their newfound home. If he can establish himself in the nation’s second-largest media market, he will no doubt be featured in high-profile ad campaigns and as a guest star on all the talk shows.
And, along the way, a few victories and maybe even a Super Bowl title or two might not hurt, either.
With all the right tools, and a few pieces added behind him, don’t bet against Justin Herbert and the Chargers eventually providing L.A. with a little electricity ... and taking the city by storm.Published 15 Oct 2020, 21:22 IST