Rookie Justin Herbert has been the Los Angeles Chargers’ starting quarterback since Week 2.
Now, the job title is official.
After a bizarre and unfortunate medical mishap sidelined Tyrod Taylor and led to weeks of confusion around the Chargers quarterback situation, head coach Anthony Lynn named Herbert as the team’s full-time starting quarterback on Thursday.
His first act as the official starter for the Chargers will be to line up in the Superdome against one of the game’s all-time greats. A red-hot rookie on the ascent will face a future Hall of Famer on the decline when the Chargers take on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints Monday night in a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
Herbert forced Lynn into tough decision
While Herbert has played well enough to force Lynn to hand him the keys, he’ll be seeking his first win as an NFL starter on Monday. The 1-3 Chargers haven’t won since Taylor led a 16-13 Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Since Herbert took over, the Chargers have suffered losses to the Kansas Chiefs, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, none of them by more than a touchdown. But in those losses, Herbert showed the promise that made him a first-round draft pick, averaging 311 yards while completing 72 percent of his passes. He’s tallied five touchdowns against three interceptions.
His performance has been too good for Lynn to consider sending the presumed future of the franchise back to the bench, even if it meant the cold NFL reality of Tyrod Taylor losing his job because a team doctor punctured his lung while giving him a pain injection so he could play through a rib injury.
Lynn faced a brutal decision. But Herbert’s play ensured that in reality it was no decision at all.
Is the Saints offense in trouble?
For the 2-2 Saints, they’ll look to move above .500 amid a middling start to a season with high expectations. At 41, Brees is no longer the elite talent or the long-ball threat that made him a perennial threat to win Offensive Player of the Year honors.
The Saints offense is now centered getting the ball All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas and letting them make plays. Thomas has been sidelined since a Week 1 ankle sprain and could return for Monday’s matchup.
Kamara is off to a career-best start, tallying 557 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns through four games. He’s a big reason the Saints offense remains one of the NFL’s most potent while averaging 30.8 points per game.
And while Brees isn’t the playmaker he once was, he’s orchestrating this offensive efficiently, averaging 251.5 passing yards per game while tallying eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Saints’ biggest issue early on is a defense that’s allowing 30.8 points per game.
Will Herbert be able to take advantage and keep pace with Brees and the Saints in his first prime-time NFL showcase?
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