Philip Rivers was the Chargers’ starting quarterback for 14 years and never missed a start. But when his contract expired following the 2019 season, it was clear that Rivers departing the organization was in everybody’s best interest.
So the Chargers drafted his replacement at No. 6 overall. The initial idea was to let the young quarterback sit and learn behind veteran Tyrod Taylor as he acclimated to the league.
But things changed quickly. Taylor’s lung was punctured during a pregame painkilling injection for his injured ribs in Week 2.
Justin Herbert took over and never looked back.
In 15 games, Herbert set a new standard for performances by a rookie quarterback. He completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 4,336 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He added 234 yards rushing with five rushing touchdowns.
He set rookie records for total touchdowns (36), passing touchdowns (31), completions (396), multi-passing touchdown games (10), games with 300 yards passing (eight), and three-passing touchdown games (six). He was just 39 yards short of Andrew Luck’s rookie record of 4,374 yards passing.
Herbert’s performance has led PFT to name him our offensive rookie of the year for 2020.
There were other strong contenders for the honor. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson set a new rookie record for receiving yards, reaching 1,400 on the season. His performance made both Minnesota and Buffalo winners in the offseason trade that sent Stefon Diggs to the Bills.
And Buccaneers right tackle Tristan Wirfs was instrumental in Tampa Bay reaching the playoffs. The 13th overall pick out of Iowa, he played every offensive snap in his first year as quarterback Tom Brady was sacked just 21 times.
But Herbert’s record-setting season takes the prize. Whoever the Chargers hire as their next head coach will take the job knowing there’s a franchise quarterback in place.