LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is not really in the running for MVP when he easily could be.
LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert burst onto the scene much earlier than anticipated and has been fantastic. So much so that Herbert has made himself the frontrunner, alongside Joe Burrow, for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
While that is going to be a fun race to watch all season, Herbert potentially could have been in the running for a much bigger award: the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. I know, I know, it sounds ludicrous, but he certainly has the resume.
There is a lot of season left to play and Herbert would have to continue at his current production and the Chargers would have to be at least a 10-win team for him to even be in the discussion.
While it seems unlikely now, if just a few things went Herbert’s way instead of the other way then Justin Herbert for MVP would be a legitimate conversation right now. Let’s break it down.
Justin Herbert’s potential MVP case:
First of all, let’s look at the numbers.
In four starts Herbert has completed 68.8% of his passes for 1,195 yards and nine passing touchdowns (with one rushing touchdown). He has a passer rating of 107.1 thus far in his young NFL career.
Herbert may only rank 23rd in passing yards and tied for 17th in passing touchdowns but he did not start Week 1 and had an early bye. Herbert ranks fifth in yards per game, ninth in passer rating and 10th in touchdown percentage.
Not really MVP numbers, but he is up there through just four games of his NFL career. Imagine how much better those numbers would get as the schedule gets easier for the LA Chargers? If he continues to progress at his current level, I would not be surprised if he ranks in the top-five in all three categories.
And that brings us to the second prong of this Herbert MVP argument: the narrative. Right now, Herbert does not have the narrative and likely will not get the narrative behind him this season. However, if a few things went his way, every NFL pundit would be talking about him as a dark horse MVP candidate.
Let’s say the Chargers just didn’t “Chargers” the last four games. They held onto the lead against Kansas City, converted that hook and ladder against Carolina, didn’t fumble before the second half and blow it against Tampa Bay and made the game-winning kick in New Orleans. Yes, that is a lot of things to ask, but we can change just one play about each game and the Chargers would be 5-0.
If that happened, again, big if, Herbert would be 4-0 in his career with wins over Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. The Chargers would be first in the AFC West. The narrative would be churning.
The numbers would be exactly the same and Herbert’s performance would be exactly the same. We would be changing four things that, quite frankly, were pretty out of his control. If Herbert got lucky breaks in all of those games then he would be a legitimate MVP candidate. There is not a doubt about that in my mind.
Instead, the LA Chargers are 1-4 and are trying to crawl back into a playoff spot with a hot second half.
Same team, same player, same statistics. If Justin Herbert just got a little bit more luck on his side then the conversation around him and the Bolts would be completely different.