No 1: Justin Herbert, 2021 season
This was a tough decision given how much of an impact the 1981 season had on the trajectory of the NFL, but Herbert’s campaign in 2021 was masterful in its own ways. Making throws that many in the league could only dream of, the other Oregon product on our list carved out an amazing campaign by rewriting much of the Bolts record book in just his second season in the league.
As mentioned before, Herbert basically was able to rewrite each record in the Chargers playbook thanks to the elongated 17-game season. However, not so fast with that asterisk mark.
By taking a closer look at his passing numbers, Herbert’s average of 294.9 yards/game is actually the third-most all-time behind Rivers in 2015 and Fouts in 1981 over the course of a full season.
Also, while he did struggle a bit with 15 interceptions, his ability to win games in the clutch (a team-record five fourth-quarter comebacks in 2021) was on full display over the course of the season. With marquee wins over five different playoff teams, including the AFC Champion Bengals, Herbert did not even approach what could be called a sophomore slump.
Perhaps there is some recency bias since it has been a long time since 1981, but Herbert’s 2021 season was special. Making his first Pro Bowl, the Oregon product also added in three rushing touchdowns giving the Chargers their first-ever 5,000 passing yard campaign and 40-plus total touchdown mark as well. Behind what should be an even-better offensive unit in 2022, the sky is perhaps the limit for the soft-spoken Herbert.