“A Coach & His Quarterback”
Brandon Staley’s Chargers might be (6-6) and in playoff jeopardy again. He might be just (7-8) since the middle of last season.
His roster has been shredded by devastating football injuries.
Some may like him, some may wan him removed as head coach.
Most will agree that the Chargers quarterbacking has been spectacular in the midst of all the things happening around Justin Herbert.
A close up chat with the Bolts coach about the Bolts quarterback and what he sees as Justin Herbert rolls thru his 3rd year in the NFL.
Pay attention to the descriptive words, the philosophy of how you develop QBs, and what he sees year three compared to what he used to be.
On if Herbert ‘is better now than he was a year ago’:
“He is a lot better player. Not even close. Not even close. Not even close. Every game, he improves. Production is a very misleading way to judge somebody, in terms of just their raw numbers. It’s how they are playing and what they have gone through. He is getting better every single week at becoming a pro quarterback. He is playing at a very high level for us right now. The last three weeks, really since the bye, playing at a very high level for us. He is practicing well. Playing better and better. His best football is out there for him down the stretch.”
On if ‘taking sacks’ over the last few weeks has ‘had an impact’ on Herbert:
“No. Number one, he is not taking sacks. I think that would imply that he is holding on to the ball or something like that, and that’s not what is happening. He is making very good decisions. You have to judge a quarterback by their decision-making. I think that is number one with a quarterback, is that there is a decision to be made on every play for him. When he gets a play call, ‘Hey, is there a run, a kill, an alert on this play? Hey, if it’s a pass or an RPO, am I going through this progression? Am I making the right decision?’ That is the thing that, I think, when you look at his being able to protect the football, I think that is something that truly makes him special is he is a very good decision-maker and that gives you a chance in every game. We are plus-four in the NFL in takeaway margin right now. We are plus-four. We are in the top five in the NFL. What that does is it gives you a chance to win every game that you play, regardless of what your injury report is. It’s that if you are going to hang in there in that place, you will have a chance in every game that you play. Beyond how special of a passer he is, special of a player he is, he is an outstanding decision-maker and he has really given us a chance in all of these games that have been super tight here since the bye. They have all been tight games. You have to have premium decision-makers in order to have a chance to finish at the end.”
On specific areas where Herbert ‘is a better quarterback’ compared to last year:
“He has experienced a lot of adversity in his first two years. I just think there is more that has happened in all ways around him. I think there has been a cumulative effect this year that, probably, didn’t exist in the first two [years]. I just think he is improving as a player, in all ways; the way he is seeing the game, the way he understands the offense, I think the way he throws the football, him understanding his fundamentals, him understanding the timing and rhythm of a play and how that is impacted by who you are playing with and what is on the other side on the defense. I have seen him make great strides in playing the game the way it needs to be played. Sometimes, you don’t get to play the game the way you want to play it and you have to learn that as a quarterback. I think that he has done a great job of staying disciplined and true to how the game needs to play and that is something that, I think, is a very difficult trait to find in a quarterback is you hear that all of the time of like trying to do too much or force something to happen. That is something that he doesn’t do. He really plays the game straight up. Like I said, he is getting better every time he goes out there. His best football is ahead of him this season.”
On if Herbert ‘has more freedom to call plays’ this season:
“He takes more ownership of the offense every single time he goes out there. There is also a progression to that, and he is earning more of that every time and he is comfortable. He did a really good job in the Las Vegas game of making some critical adjustments. He did it in the Arizona game, which was a heavy blitz game. The more you see as a player, especially at that position, the more experiences that you can bank on, the better that you are going to play over time. That’s what is happening for him right now. Confidence comes from experience. Experience, sometimes it’s tough, and sometimes it’s positive, but experience, either way. He’s working through that right now, as a player.”
On Herbert ‘leading the league in completions outside of the tackle box’:
“Since we’ve been here, there has been plenty of design outside of the framework of the tackle box. Then, certainly, he has that ability to create outside of the tackle box when there’s pressure. He’s very accurate on the move. You try to do that as much as you can in the gameplan to change the launch point of the quarterback, within the framework of the offense, so that you’re moving the launch point. Sometimes, you may play a team that doesn’t allow you to do that as much, but you’re always trying to do that because that’s a big part of protecting your quarterback and forcing the defense to defend every blade grass. Then, he also has that element, outside of the rhythm of the play, where he can create, and then be accurate, in the deep part of the field. You saw that the other day with Keenan [Allen]; you saw it in two-minute to Keenan. He has had that ability his whole career. That’s something he really can’t teach. He just has that ability. He’s a playmaker, and we’re going to try and continue to feature him the best way we know.”
On if Herbert’s ability ‘causes defenses to pressure less’:
“No doubt. I think that you saw that last year. We went from one of the most pressured teams in the NFL, last year, to one of the least, in my first year. A big part of that is the types of passes that you implement; changing the rhythm and timing of the play where you have a mix of quick passes, movement passes, deep passes, well-protected passes. I think that that’s all part of what you’re trying to do when you’re building an offense, to keep your quarterback protected the best you can. When there’s attrition up front, again, in order to move the ball, you can’t just limit yourself to that way of playing because you have to move the football. We are always going to try and think of [Herbert] first in everything that we do, from a protection standpoint.”