Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers are taking on Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins this Sunday and with this matchup have come irresponsible takes about Herbert as a quarterback. It is the new and trendy thing to question whether or not Herbert is an elite quarterback for a myriad of silly reasons.
Some point out the fact that he has had a down season this year without realizing that they are comparing his "down" season to a historically great start to his career. Others are pointing out his career win-loss record, which is a pretty flawed way to look at things when someone isn't taking the bigger picture into consideration.
There is no point in even linking to any of these Herbert hit pieces because they are all ridiculous in their own right. Instead, I just wanted to lay out five of the insane hurdles that Herbert has had to overcome this season that — quite frankly — most other quarterbacks would crumble under.
5 insane hurdles Chargers' Justin Herbert has had to overcome this season:
1. A bad offensive line (not just in 2022, but in most of his career)
Justin Herbert has constantly been under pressure in his short NFL career. The Chargers were able to put together a good offensive line in 2021 after Herbert was pressured at a historic rate in his rookie season. This time around, the offensive line has dealt with injuries and some regression that has resulted in another pressure-filled season for Herbert.
A whopping 37% of Herbert's dropbacks this season have resulted in pressure (per Pro Football Focus). That is the third-most among quarterbacks with at least 400 total dropbacks this season, trailing just Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins.
Pressure is part of playing in the NFL and Herbert has done his part in limiting sacks with his pocket presence (he has the second-lowest pressure-to-sack ratio in the league behind Patrick Mahomes). But when you combine that with the other hurdles? Woof.
2. A decimated wide receiver room
Justin Herbert still hasn't played an entire game with his WR1 and WR2. The Chargers have played 12 games. Find me another quarterback who has had less than 20 snaps with his top three receivers all on the field this season that is playing as well as Herbert. I'll wait.
There were legitimate stretches this season when Herbert was without his WR1, WR2, WR3 and WR5. Remember when he had to throw to DeAndre Carter, Michael Bandy, and a bunch of practice squad players? That was fun.
3. Maybe the worst offensive coordinator in the league?
Joe Lombardi has put together a disasterclass this season in how not to call an offense with Justin Herbert under center. For those that want to discredit this argument without actually watching the film, go check out Benjamin Solak's video about Lombardi and his flawed offensive play-calling. It is an eye-opener.
4. FRACTURED RIB CARTILAGE
Why is it just being ignored that Justin Herbert fractured his rib cartilage in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs? Sure, Herbert didn't miss a game, but he had to play through pretty tough pain that obviously limited the offense for six weeks.
The sad part about how NFL media works is that if Herbert just made a business decision and decided to sit out these games with injuries we wouldn't be getting these absurd takes. Instead, he toughed it out with FRACTURED RIB CARTILAGE, with all of these other issues, and still played.
5. One of the worst defenses in the NFL
This is for the "wins is a quarterback stat" crowd. The Chargers have had one of the worst offenses in the league the last two seasons and that falls on Brandon Staley. Trying to make this a Herbert issue is a Mr. Fantastic-level stretch.
It is not a perfect means of comparison but it is quite absurd to see what the Chargers' record would be this season if they had a defense comparable to the top teams in the AFC. It's almost like having a well-rounded team helps with wins. Hmm. I was told it was just on the quarterback.
Again, it is not a perfect comparison because of the domino effect that is a game of football, but these differences are jarring. The Chargers would be 8-4 if they had the Chiefs' PPG allowed and 9-3 if they had the Bills' PPG allowed. Buffalo would be 6-6, the Chiefs would be 7-5 with the Chargers' PPG allowed.
That might not actually be what the records are if this played out in real life but this shows just how much the top quarterbacks in the league get help from the defensive side of the ball. But let's just ignore the fact that Herbert has to put together a perfect masterclass despite all these hurdles just to overcome his own defense.
This is not to say that Justin Herbert is perfect. He isn't. He also isn't on the same tier as Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is literally one of one. But this anti-Herbert tirade that has become popular on social media here recently is absurd, and quite frankly, is simply done for the clicks.