A couple highly touted rookies meet each other in Miami this Sunday when the Dolphins host the Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams spent their first pick in last April’s draft with a quarterback choice, and neither team appears disappointed in their decision.
The Chargers selected Justin Herbert with the sixth overall selection, he was the third quarterback chosen in the first round. Joe Burrow went first, to the Cincinnati Bengals, and after the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and New York Giants chose two defenders and an offensive lineman respectively, the Dolphins made their first round choice.
The best two quarterbacks left on the board by most appraisals were Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Most media reports had the Dolphins selecting Herbert, but instead they took a “chance” on Tagovailoa even though his 2019 college season was cut short by a serious injury.
The Chargers were happy to get Herbert.
In fact, the buzz in the league this season is all about how pleased Los Angeles is to have Herbert running their offense and expect him to be a fixture in their backfield for years to come.
The Chargers rookie made his debut in the league in the second week of the regular season. It was a surprise start, prompted by a medical accident on the sideline that punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung. Pressed into duty, against the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, seemed like sending the young QB into the fray underprepared to battle against the league’s best.
In fact, from a motivational perspective, being thrown into the action without any advance warning is the best of circumstances for a young player. This is because he didn’t lose a night sleep before his first NFL start thinking about it, or have the media and teammates huddle around him all week which in almost all cases, simply adds pressure to the quarterback making his initial start.
Nope, being thrown into action with no advance warning is the best of situations, and the young Los Angeles signal caller took near full advantage of the situation. He played a solid game, and had the Chargers in the lead until, well until Patrick Mahomes and his teammates showed the Chargers why they are the champions. They caught Los Angeles late, and beat them in overtime.
No one in the Chargers organization was knocking Herbert for not winning the game, but rather complimenting him on his solid play in his first NFL start against the Super Bowl Champions.
This is a pattern that has persisted through all seven of Herbert’s starts this season.
In the 47 years I have been involved in the NFL, beginning with joining the Oakland Raiders in 1973, I have never seen a quarterback get more praise for compiling a 1-6 record. Sure, a lot can be attributed to the Chargers defense, which has coughed up four double-digit leads in losses, but isn’t the object of the game winning?
Herbert has lost more close games than the Washington Generals.
But he has lost.
In his second start, against the Carolina Panthers at home, he got beat 21-16. Soon after that, he was named the full time starter despite the fact that Taylor lost his job by a poke from a team medical person after he had guided the Chargers to a road win on opening day. Beating Joe Burrow in his debut with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In fact, Herbert’s only win of the year came at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, an opponent that hasn’t won a game since opening day.
This week, the wise guys think Herbert is going to win again, slicing an opening point spread of 2½ points to 1½ points when he meets the quarterback that was chosen in front of him in the draft, Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa has made two starts this year after replacing Ryan Fitzpactrick coming out of the Dolphins bye week.
Know what Tagovailoa has more of than Herbert this season?
Qoxhi Picks: Miami Dolphins (-1½) over Los Angeles Chargers