There have been many tantalizing storylines surrounding the LA Chargers this year from injuries to poor defense to poor coaching, but what has gone under the radar, and what should be recognized first and foremost, is just how great Justin Herbert is playing already.
Despite the injuries to his number one target in Keenan Allen and left tackle in Rashawn Slater, despite the relentless poor decisions being made game after game by Brandon Staley, and despite the horrific and underwhelming performance of the defense as a whole, Justin finds himself seventh in QBR right now with a 65.6 rating.
Now, there are probably many people out there who do not care about advanced stats like QBR, many perhaps in this very Chargers fan circle. But at the end of the day, this is the all-encompassing quarterback stat that takes every single detail of consideration and feeds them into a mathematical equation that ultimately shows a quarterback's true worth to his team.
If you're not into QBR, that's totally fine. You can be weird if you want. I personally view it as the best quarterback stat out there.
Regardless of either side of the debate, you are on, I think we can all agree as Chargers people that any stat that increases the public perception of how good Justin Herbert is is a quality one.
QBR demonstrates Chargers' Justin Herbert is a top-five QB once you consider the context.
Last year, Herbert was third behind just Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady with a QBR of 70.9. This year, he may be seventh through five games, but when we take into consideration the number of games still to go as well as the current slew of quarterbacks in front of him, there is clearly no reason Justin cannot finish in the top three once again.
Here are the current rankings of quarterbacks based on QBR after Week 5:
- 1. Patrick Mahomes (82.6)
- 2. Tua Tagovailoa (79.6)
- 3. Josh Allen (78.4)
- 4. Geno Smith (74.6)
- 5. Cooper Rush (66.7)
- 6. Jacoby Brissett (65.8)
- 7. Justin Herbert (65.6)
As you can see, this is not an objective list of the seven best quarterbacks in football.
We have Mahomes and Allen who would naturally be expected to be in the upper echelons of a stat like QBR. What they contribute to their teams as individuals make them easy candidates for higher QBRs.
Then we have four guys who I'm not so sure are still going to be up there by the end of the season. I think that's a fair statement to make.
The seasons of Tua, Geno, Rush, and Brissett have all had kind of "flash in the pan" feels to them thus far.
There are a few different factors at play here as to why I say that. Rush, Geno, and Brissett are all backup quarterbacks getting elevated starting gigs. Granted, they're doing well in them, but in the cases of Rush and Brissett, there are starters in Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson waiting to return to action in a matter of weeks for those teams. Geno may keep the starting gig all year, but Drew Lock is a competing quarterback who still has starting aspirations.
So, in a weird sort of way, when we measure full-fledged starting quarterbacks on realistic playoff-hopeful teams, Justin's got the third or fourth-best QBR right now with his number one receiver out, broken rib cartilage, a banged-up offensive line, a defense that's allowing 27.2 points per game, and bad coaching. Depending of course if you consider Tua a full-fledged starting quarterback on a realistic playoff-hopeful team.
Put more bluntly, I think Tua's, Rush's, Geno's, and Brissett's QBRs are all inflated right now and they will soon drop. So, that puts Justin right below Mahomes and Allen assuming of course he stays healthy and nothing crazy happens to his game.
Non-Chargers fans are not going to like this, but this is why I continue to belabor the point that besides the G.O.A.T. Tom Brady, Justin is the best quarterback in football right now. He is doing more with way less than what Mahomes and Allen have, he's not even in his groove yet, and yet he still finds himself right near the top of (what I'd consider) the most important quarterback stat out there.
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Chargers fans, you and I know he's amazing. Now it's time we make sure to let everybody else know.