Is Herbert ROY material?

Chargers' rookie might be cornerstone of LA fanbase
By Cliff Pfenning,
AP photo

Justin Herbert has not been the ticket to victory this season for the Los Angeles Chargers.

But, he certainly hasn't been boring.

Since taking over as starting quarterback in Week 2, the rookie out of Oregon has had the Chargers basically one play away from winning every weekend, even though all-but-one of the weekends has ended in a loss.

Entering Sunday's game at Miami, the Chargers are 2-6 and in last place in the AFC West, having lost all three games against division opponents. Those losses, though, were by a combined total of nine points, including an overtime loss to defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City.

It's not hard to see Herbert as the top candidate for Rookie of the Year as he's averaging 330 yards per game with 17 touchdowns against five interceptions. 

Sunday's game pits Herbert against another rookie - Tua Tagovialoa, who has led the Dolphins to a pair of victories the past two weeks. Miami enters the game at 5-3, and in second place in the AFC East coming off a 34-31 win at Arizona. The Dolphins won the game with a 50-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, then survived a field-goal miss by the Cardinals.

So far, the Dolphins have been making plays to win, especially on defense, while the Chargers have not. Los Angeles has lost three times after leading by 14 points or more. The game will be carried by FOX at 1:05 p.m.

Herbert's top competition is likely Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, who has had a similar season leading the Bengals to a 2-5-1 record. Burrow is averaging 300 yards per game with 11 touchdown passes against five interceptions. The Bengals have lost four games by one score or less, including their season-opener to the Chargers, who were quarterbacked by Tyrod Taylor. When Taylor suffered an injury just prior to the team's Week 2 game with Kansas City, Herbert stepped in and has not let go, inspite of the frustrating results.

Herbert's one win came over Jacksonville, 39-29, a game in which the Chargers led 16-0, fell behind 29-22, then rallied with 17 consecutive points.

With the second half of the season looming, another Oregon-based quarterback is getting a shot at making a name for himself - Jake Luton of Oregon State. Luton, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, very nearly led an improbable comeback Sunday against Houston only to have a two-point conversion go awry with 1:30 left in a 27-25 loss. Making his first start, Luton hit 26 of 38 passes with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a score - 13 yards for the potential tying points.

Jacksonville plays at Green Bay Sunday at 10 a.m. with the game set to be carried by FOX.