Air Raid: Ranking Justin Herbert's 2021 passing season in Chargers history

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders / Steve Marcus/GettyImages
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Don Coryell, Dan Fouts
Quarterback Dan Fouts (14) and head coach Don Coryell (center) revolutionized the NFL in the late 1970's and early 80's with "Air Coryell" / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

No 2: Dan Fouts, 1981 season

Fouts’ most masterful campaign in San Diego, the 1981 season stood as the passing high watermark for the Chargers until the turn of the century. Bolstered by a passing yards record that stood until just last year, the bearded gunslinger and Air Coryell revolutionized the passing game in the NFL during this time.

With 4,802 yards (almost 900 yards better than the nearest competitor) along with 33 touchdowns (a team record that stood until 2008), Fouts led the league in passing and also led the Bolts to a 10-6 record. 

What’s more amazing about this number is that by this point, Fouts was responsible for over half of the five 4,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history, his third in a row. Also thanks to his amazing prowess in throwing the ball, the Chargers again featured three 1,000-yard receivers in the form of wide receivers Wes Chandler, Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow. A true master of his craft, this was perhaps the best season (given the overall talent) until 2006 for the Chargers to make a Super Bowl run.

However, it was not to be. While San Diego was able to outlast the Dolphins in the legendary “Epic in Miami,” 41-38, they unfortunately fell to the Bengals in the also legendary “Freezer Bowl,” 27-7. A game that featured extremely frigid conditions (−9 °F (−22.8 °C)) that iced the high-flying Bolts attack.