LA Chargers: Grading the 2020 quarterbacks
Change is coming to the quarterback position for the LA Chargers in 2020.
With the mutual decision to part ways to Philip Rivers in free agency, the LA Chargers are at the start of a whole new era when it comes to the quarterback position. Last offseason, they signed Tyrod Taylor to be a backup to the aforementioned Rivers. Seemingly for depth or future potential, they also drafted North Dakota State’s Easton Stick in 2019.
This year, the sixth pick was spent on Oregon’s Justin Herbert. At this point, he’s the eventual starter of the future, but there are a lot of questions as to when. Will it be this year? Next year? Is there a chance for him to actually win the job outright from the beginning?
Barring a Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick signing, it looks like the season will start with Taylor as the starter and Herbert as the backup, so that’s how I’ll cover the situation for now. First up, QB no. 1:
LA Chargers QB1: Tyrod Taylor
For a while in the offseason, it looked like there was a possibility Taylor would be given the clipboard and a backup job again. The LA Chargers nearly did sign Tom Brady, who would’ve changed the entire plan that the Chargers had going.
Fans are understandably lukewarm when it comes to projecting Taylor out to the season. The last time we saw him as a starter, it resulted in a concussion vs. the Jets on a bad Browns team that led to the rise of Baker Mayfield. Some might say the same thing could happen with Herbert stealing the job fairly early on.
There are a few differences between that situation in this one. First, Herbert isn’t as NFL ready as Mayfield was from the jump. Learning to process the game and adapt to the NFL level will probably take him at least a little longer than it took Mayfield. Secondly, this Chargers’ roster is a lot better than what Taylor had a starter in Cleveland.
To look at a true sample size for Taylor, you have to go back to his three years in Buffalo. Honestly, Taylor was a pretty good game manager type quarterback. Is he going to light the world on fire and win MVP? No. Can he do well with a stacked roster? Yes.
Let’s dive into some numbers. Taylor averaged a 92.7 passer rating in his three seasons in Buffalo. He threw for about 3000 yards and had a 60+% completion rate in each season. A lot of people will go straight to the fact he got benched for Nathan Peterman without bringing up the context of the situation.
Yes, Taylor played a subpar game at New Orleans that year in which the team got steamrolled by the Saints. Prior to that point though, he threw for 10 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 95.8 passer rating. And let’s be fully honest-Chargers fans know exactly how benching Taylor for Peterman went. Oh, and then when Taylor came back the Bills clinched a playoff spot for the first time in two decades.
This is not to say Taylor’s perfect. He can make mistakes and is more of a game manager than Rivers’ gunslinger style. If the Chargers have a top 10 defense though, I have no reason to really believe he can’t carry the team decently far with better offensive weapons than he had in either Buffalo or Cleveland.
People also need to remember that Rivers played the Chargers out of some games last year. I love Rivers as much as the next guy, but part of the reason the Chargers’ offense was bad was because he was trying to chuck the ball downfield into double coverage with a dead arm that’s not what it used to be. A more conservative approach that limits turnovers could really work for the team.
Taylor is decent enough to be a game manager in the style of Alex Smith and adds some mobility and a penchant for keeping plays alive. As long as he keeps the turnovers low, he has a pretty high floor.