Justin Herbert’s grade: B
Annoyingly for myself as an evaluator and Bolt fans, head-scratching play-calling and poor execution causes a murky consensus on Herbert’s performance today versus Miami. Shane Steichen’s play-calling gave you the impression that they’re working with a quarterback who’s not ready to uncork it and play confidently and free as we’ve seen all year long.
The play calling was vanilla all game. Most notably, when the Chargers started plenty of urgent series’ down two scores in the second half with constant predictable runs in between the tackles.
Something that’d be more understandable if Austin Ekeler wasn’t sidelined. But with Kalen Ballage and Joshua Kelley running the show, force-feeding and trying to establish a solid ground game all day and restraining your star team carrier in Herbert doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Granted, the back end of this Dolphin defense stole the show all day long as the single most impressive unit from today’s game. Through three and a half quarters, scary cornerback tandem Xavien Howard and Byron Jones held Chargers premiere wideouts Keenen Allen and Mike Williams to a combined three receptions for just 36 yards.
Combine that with Emmanuel Ogbah and the Miami front four consistently getting immediate pressure on Herbert and forcing errant throws all day, it was tough sledding for the rookie stud in the face of Brian Flores and Josh Boyer’s outstanding game plan.
With all of these factors working against Herbert, through most of the game I considered a B+ grade. However, a poor pick on a 3rd & 12 in the opening possession of the fourth quarter, giving Miami great field position on an eventual touchdown, was a tough mistake to overcome. Then again, with all the reg flags existing within the other two phases of this team, certain desperation throws may feel necessary for Herbert.
There’s no doubt the Chargers still appear to have one of the two or three best quarterbacks under the age of 25 in the league. But as far as today specifically, the aforementioned special teams’ gaffs and concern with Anthony Lynn, Gus Bradley, and George Stewart in leadership positions carries the day once again in yet another one-possession defeat for the LA Chargers.