justin herbert

Herbert gets another taste of NFL hearbreak

Strong game and early lead, ends with loss to Denver
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Another game, another tough loss for Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

For the third time this season, the Chargers and their rookie quarterback - former Oregon great Justin Herbert, failed to protect a lead of 17 or more points and lost 31-30 at Denver Sunday when the Broncos threw for a touchdown on the final play of the game. The extra point finished out the contest Herbert had played well enough to win, but didn't.

Los Angeles dropped to 2-5 on the season, with all of its losses coming by seven points or less, including two in overtime.

Herbert finished Sunday's game having passed for 278 yards and three touchdowns. His two interceptions, though, included one in the end zone that wiped out at least a potential field goal late in the third quarter. After taking a 24-3 lead early in the second half, the Chargers could only score on two field goals.

The second interception proved most costly as it followed a defensive interception that set the Chargers up at the Denver 23. After a pair of runs got the team five yards, Herbert's pass into the end zone was intercepted and the Broncos promptly drove 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown that brought the game to 24-17.

Los Angeles set itself up to win with a five-minute drive engineered by Herbert that ended with a 33-yard field goal at 2:30. Denver quarterback Drew Lock then moved the Broncos 81 yards in 14 plays, with the touchdown set up by a Chargers' pass interference call in the end zone as time ran out. On the following untimed play, Lock hit KJ Hamler with the one-yard pass and Brandon McManus kicked the game-winning extra point.

Denver improved to 3-4.

Coming off a 39-29 win over Jacksonville, the Chargers seemed poised to turn a corner of losing by mounting a 24-3 lead from Herbert's third touchdown pass early in the second half. But, the magic wore off. Los Angeles has led in all-but-one of its games, and by double digits in four of the losses.

Herbert, who took over in the second week of the season, has passed for 1,542 yards and 12 touchdowns in six games.



Herbert gets taste of NFL struggle

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 6:27am
Cliff Pfenning
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Former Oregon football great Justin Herbert had a near-fantastic introduction to the NFL Sunday, nearly leading the Los Angeles Chargers past the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in a surprise start, including leading his team to a touchdown on his opening drive in the league.

Trouble is, the outcome was a loss in overtime, and it showcased why the Chargers are likely to help him to a shorten career, one marked by continued disappointment often regardless of his progress and skill.

The Chargers are just not a good team, and the franchise hasn't been much of a marquee franchise since former Oregon great Dan Fouts played there from 1973 to 1984 - twice reaching the AFC championship game. The team has played in the Super Bowl just once, losing to San Francisco in 1994.

Herbert and his team performed well enough to win - they made it to overtime. But almost is still a loss, and for reasons easy to point to starting with Herbert. In one of the key plays of the game, with his team leading in the third quarter and nearing a first down after scrambling from the pocket, Herbert chose to throw a long pass against his body into a bull market of KC defenders. It turned into an interception at the 5-yard line, which the Chiefs and quarterback Pat Mahomes turned into a 95-yard touchdown drive in just six plays to tie the game at 17.

The Chargers then had a spectacular 17-play drive that lasted more than 10 minutes. But, with first down at the KC 4, the Chargers ran twice up the middle for no yards and Herbert got sacked leading to a 23-yard field goal. KC then drove for a field goal that tied the game at the end of regulation.

LA's play calling coddled Herbert to an amazing degree, even though he finished by completing 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards and one 14-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chargers a 14-6 halftime lead. Almost all of the passes Herbert completed were shorter than 10 yards with extra yards produced by the receiver. That's play-calling for an untested rookie, which is a good thing on the Chargers' part.

The Chargers produced 482 yards of offense - an amazing total for any team in any game. But, they scored only 20 points - a head-scratcher of an outcome.

LA's defense even performed admirably. Despite giving up 414 yards of offense, it stymied Mahomes time and again. But, the Chargers were called for offsides numerous times, which benefitted the Chiefs time and again, including wiping out an interception in the fourth quarter.

The biggest play-call of the game for LA might easily have been fourth-and-1 at the Chargers' 34 on the first drive of overtime. With CBS color commentator urging LA coach Anthony Lynn to throw caution to the wind and go for the first down, which I was basically screaming for at my home office, Lynn chose to punt and the Chiefs drove for a winning field goal. Granted the field goal was a 58-yard attempt, but that's the difference in the two franchises these days. The Chiefs do what's needed to win, while the Chargers do what's needed to almost win.

And, this is inspite of the Chargers winning in their season opener on the road in Cincinatti 16-13, against first-time starter Joe Burrow. The win was with veteran Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and featured the team racking up 362 yards. Again, though, the team scored just 16 points.

LA is headed for a one frustrating season, and without Taylor getting hurt what fans saw Sunday is likely to be the biggest highlight of Herbert's rookie season, which featured short-pass completion after short-pass completion. At least, though, receivers caught the passes, something that dogged former Oregon great Joey Harrington in his career with the Detroit Lions.

Good luck Justin. Hopefully, Sunday's game is the start of a great career with a franchise that desperately needs the results of a quarterback having a great career - turning almost wins into actual wins.









Herbert stays on West Coast

Oregon QB drafted 6th overall by Chargers
Staff Report

The winter of questions regarding Oregon senior Justin Herbert and his status among the NFL reached a level of solitude Thursday after he was selected sixth overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Herbert, who started for some or all of the past four seasons in Eugene, led the Ducks to the 2019 Pac-12 Conference title and Rose Bowl win, but had plenty of doubters heading into the draft. Those were left behind by a team that has not had to deal with the quarterback position for the past 14 years - the Phillip Rivers era, and Herbert was seen as the team's starter almost immediately.

He was the third quarterback selected after Louisiana State's Joe Burrows first to the Cincinnati Bengals and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa fifth to the Miami Dolphins.

The Draft was held in a virtual mode due to social distancing requirements caused by COVID-19.

Ohio State had players picked at No. 2 - defensive end Chase Young by the Washington Redskins, and No. 3 - cornerback Jeff Okudah by the Detroit Lions.

With the Chargers, Herbert will be inheriting a corps of stand-out receivers in Keenan AllenMike Williams and Hunter Henry. He also has a top-notch running back in Austin Ekeler, who recorded 993 receiving yards and caught eight touchdown passes last season.

The Chargers have reached the Super Bowl just once - 1994, when the team was quarterbacked by Oregon grad and Hall of Famer Dan Fouts.

Oregon plays way right out of huge win

The Ducks are getting good at losing big games, too
By Cliff Pfenning

Following the Oregon football team’s season-opener against Auburn via radio in Central Oregon Saturday, the game played out as one fans have come to expect these days - the Ducks worked their way into a gut-wrenching loss.

And, it was gut-wrenching in terms of how they lost - they were right on the cusp of a huge win on a national stage, one that would have signaled the program is back as a elite-level power. But, that’s not where the propram is these days. 

Head coach Mario Cristobal deserves the credit for getting the program close to the elite level, but also the blame for just not being able to get there. But more than his game management, it’s his loyalty to offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo that’s a question mark on his program.

Oregon’s offense dictated the flow of games in its glory years. Not so Saturday night. Cristobal said as much after the loss in that Auburn’s defense kept quarterback Justin Herbert from throwing up the field. In fact, in one sequence, Herbert completed three consecutive passes, but they didn’t turn into 10 yards and the offense got stuffed on a fourth-down run that stopped what might have been a game-ending drive. 

The Ducks pretty-much gave up their running game in the second half, too, which just boggles the mind in that it was able to run in the first half, and just plain needs to be able to run to win big games in the future. Put that one on Cristobal and Arroyo. Oregon used to dictate games, and needs to again to get its fans into thinking these games will always turn into victories.

Beyond the coaches, though, it seemed like Herbert played his way out of the first round of the NFL Draft with such a spotty performance. The final score is all you have to look at to get that feel. Oregon’s senior quarterback lost to a freshman playing his first game. Bo Nix made the big plays that won the game not Herbert. Whatever you can think of that went wrong, Herbert had the shot at making them minor issues by converting a few more plays into successes. Instead, he fumbled while not handing the ball off in the first half, got called for intentional grounding in the second half, and the following possession took a 14-yard sack that stalled the drive that turned the ball over to Auburn for the game-winning drive.

Nix made the plays on the winning drive, including a dive for a first down that was measured in inches. Nix got beat in the scorebook by Herbert, but he won on the scoreboard and that’s what NFL scouts look at more than anything. Game leadership counts, and Herbert just has not had that in his career. He’s got 12 more games, including a bowl game, to change that and play his way back into the first round.

And, lastly, Oregon’s beloved play-by-play man Jerry Allen, might be at the end of his career, he made so many miscues during the game, including calling one long run moving from the 20 to the 10 to the 15 and then the five. It was had to know where the ball was on the field in stretches of the game. Hopefully, that won’t affect any more contests, and he’ll be calling the Ducks plays in a major bowl game in five months because the team will be playing in a major bowl game in five months.



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