Anthony Lynn’s comments after Justin Herbert’s LA Chargers’ debut are being misinterpreted.
This was in line with what Lynn has said the whole time. Fans that expected him to declare Justin Herbert the starter right after the Chiefs’ game were simply misinformed if they thought that was going to happen.
Whether or not Herbert starts in Week 3 is not really what I want to talk about. Two other Lynn quotes that got attention were his “backup for a reason” and “best chance to win” quotes. Let’s start with the first one:
Anthony Lynn elaborating on why Tyrod Taylor is still his starter: "There's a lot we didn't get done with Justin on the field yesterday. He's a backup for a reason." #Chargers
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) September 21, 2020
Some viewed the quote as a “dragging” of Herbert. Is there something Lynn said in the quote that wasn’t true? Herbert did plenty well on Sunday, but he also was too aggressive and cost the team with his interception that set up a 95-yard drive by the Chiefs.
Lynn and Tom Telesco’s belief has been that Herbert is a developmental project. Time will tell if that situation remains as is for the organization, but that has been the case. If Andy Reid called Patrick Mahomes a backup in his 2017 bench year, would people have freaked out? No, because that’s what the situation was.
“Backup for a reason” simply isn’t an indictment on Herbert. People need to stop taking offense to it as such. Tua Tagovailoa is a backup for a reason in Miami. Several other quarterbacks have been in that role.
The next quote that got people mad was “best chance to win”:
#Chargers coach Anthony Lynn on favoring Tyrod Taylor over Justin Herbert: "I know we can win with either quarterback. But the veteran quarterback right now gives us the best chance to win. It’s not like we won the damn game yesterday. We lost last time I checked.”
— Jeff Miller (@JeffMillerLAT) September 21, 2020
Personally, I believe that Herbert is the quarterback who gives the Chargers the best chance to win right now. At the same time, Taylor is a veteran presence for a team that makes fewer mistakes than Herbert will for the time being. In the season opener vs. Cincinnati, the Chargers showed up with a much less inventive playbook than Week 2.
All the screen passes and play-action you saw on Sunday simply weren’t called against Cincinnati to the same extent. If they open up the playbook for Taylor whenever he plays next with the quality of the offensive line staying the same, I have no doubt that he’ll keep the Chargers in close games.
Finally, it just feels like people aren’t being realistic about the long term future. Tom Telesco AND Anthony Lynn drafted Herbert with the sixth pick. This came at a time when many LA Chargers fans were less positive on the Oregon standout, including myself. My draft grade at the time was a B-.
More than wins and losses, playoff appearances, player contracts, etc., Lynn’s job security hinges directly on Herbert’s development. If Herbert fails, Telesco and Lynn are gone. If he excels, they get to stay around. Very few GM’s ever get to pick a second quarterback. Oh, and while we’re talking about quotes:
Anthony Lynn to fans who want Justin Herbert to start now: "I’m really excited about Justin. That’s why we took him at 6. I think he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback, but I want to put him out there when I know he’s ready.” #Chargers
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) September 21, 2020
In the same press conference, Lynn double-downed on Herbert being the quarterback of the future while clearly being excited about his debut. Fans may disagree with him starting Taylor or whatever decisions he makes from week to week, but the idea that he’s biased against Herbert in favor of Taylor simply has no basis in reality.
He is biased towards *check notes* Herbert having the best possible career he can have once Taylor is gone after this season.
Lynn is “biased” against Herbert in the same way that Reid was biased against Mahomes, which is to say he isn’t biased at all. He wants to start the veteran while the rookie learns. I disagree with not starting Herbert, as do many, but Lynn doesn’t hate Herbert. He is doing what he thinks is in the rookie’s best interest.