Despite finishing with the fifth-most points per game and the fourth-highest offensive DVOA in 2021, LA Chargers fans have never been a fan of Joe Lombardi as the offensive coordinator. In the eyes of many fans, Lombardi has not properly maximized Justin Herbert's ability to rip it downfield.
Lombardi has been far from perfect and when he has earned criticism in the past we have been very quick to give it to him. However, the reasons why fans seem to have a gripe with him don't make a lot of sense. Sure, his offense might not be that exciting but it has been extremely efficient and the numbers back it up.
This idea that Lombardi never lets Herbert rip the ball downfield is a blatant myth. Herbert had plenty of long passes last season and that has been the case this year as well. After five weeks of action, there are only four teams in the entire league that have more receptions of more than 20 yards than the Chargers. And that without Keenan Allen and Jalen Guyton.
Upset Chargers fans are missing the full picture with Justin Herbert and the offense.
Deep passes are happening at a high clip but that is still not enough for some fans, who want to see Herbert ripping it downfield more often. While it would be nice to see Herbert complete passes of 20 yards or more every single drive, that simply is not realistic.
What upset fans seem to forget is the fact that the other team also knows how talented Herbert is at throwing the football. Defenses are specifically schemed to take the deep ball away from Herbert, forcing him to go after other options.
It is not like the Chargers simply aren't running deep routes. They are there and they are off the television camera, so fans often are not seeing what is happening downfield. Herbert is the one that is working through his progressions and is taking the safer options because he is a smart quarterback. He knows when to rip it deep and when not to.
It is simply unrealistic to expect an offense to only operate with the long ball. This is not Madden where you can find 2-3 different plays that work every time for 20+ yards. This is real life and the name of the game is maximizing points scored, and minimizing mistakes.
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Herbert is perhaps the most mistake-free quarterback in the league, and despite losing his franchise left tackle, WR1 and fracturing his rib cartilage, he is still piloting the Chargers to a top-10 offense this season. The Chargers rank ninth in points scored and offensive DVOA. And it is only going to get better.