Justin Herbert

LA Chargers: Why Justin Herbert will be the league MVP in 2021

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers calls a play against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers calls a play against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports – LA Chargers Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert took the LA Chargers and the rest of the NFL by storm. Herbert was not even supposed to start for the Chargers in his rookie season and was told on very short notice that he would be starting in place of Tyrod Taylor in Week 2.

The rest was history. Herbert put together arguably the greatest rookie season in NFL history and was just named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, beating out Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

That award is not the only one that Herbert will have in his trophy case. In just one year’s time there will be an MVP trophy sitting right next to it.

I already wrote that Herbert was the smart-money bet for MVP in January. Today, I wanted to break down in further detail why Herbert will be the league MVP in 2021.

1. Justin Herbert already had an MVP-level season for the LA Chargers in 2020

Some tried to say that Justin Herbert had just a good season for a quarterback while Justin Jefferson had a great season for a wide receiver. I had to put that theory to bed.

This is actually completely bogus.

32 seasons (14 QBs with Herbert) since merger with 4,300 yards, 30 TDs, 66% comp.

78 seasons (49 WRs with Jefferson) since merger with 1,400 yards, 80 receptions, 7 TDs.

Herbert joins Mahomes, Brees and Rodgers as only to do it in 15 games https://t.co/Rf7x1drKCh

— Jason Reed (@EatYourReedies) February 6, 2021

Notice the three names at the end of that tweet. Justin Herbert did something in 15 games that only Patrick Mahomes (on pace to shatter every NFL record), Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers (both top five all-time) did.

That is just incredible, but what if Herbert played all 16 games? Of course, anything could have happened in Week 1 and he could have completed eight passes for 140 yards and no touchdowns in his first career start, but he also could have thrown for 380 yards and four touchdowns.

Let’s just use his averages. Herbert averaged 289.1 yards per game and just over 2 touchdowns per game. If Herbert played Week 1 and those averages were the same, he would have finished with 4,625 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns (five rushing). We will assume that his 66.6% completion rate would have stayed above 66%.

In the history of the NFL, there have been 18 seasons in which a quarterback had 4,600 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns and a completion percentage above 66%. SIx of the 13 winning quarterbacks won the MVP in those seasons. The other seven were all in the running.

And even better: he would have been the first quarterback to accomplish those numbers while also adding five rushing touchdowns. Justin Herbert had an MVP-caliber season already and he will be even better.

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