Chargers OC Joe Lombardi: Justin Herbert’s ability to make big plays is exciting

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One of the biggest draws of the Chargers head coaching vacancy this offseason was the presence of Justin Herbert. But with former Rams defensive coordinator taking the job, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi will largely steer Herbert’s development in his second season.

With good reason, Lombardi recently told the Chargers’ website that he’s excited about coaching the young quarterback after Herbert’s strong 2020.

“I thought he played very maturely for a rookie — getting the ball out on time, knowing where to go with the football, knowing when to scramble,” Lombardi said. “There was no question about his talent level coming out of college. And seeing him be able to apply it that quickly in an NFL setting was very impressive.”

Lombardi views Herbert’s ability to create explosive plays with downfield throws as an ideal asset.

“His arm strength and his ability to throw it accurately deep — it’s just so much easier sometimes to score a touchdown in one play than to take 10 to do it. And he’s got the ability to do both,” Lombardi said. “We’ve been so consistent in New Orleans on these long drives, where we are just efficient and we’re getting the short passing game and running the ball efficiently. And those things are important, we’ll be able to do that. But his ability to create those big plays with his arm and his feet are what’s very exciting.”

Herbert set several rookie passing records in 2020, including throwing for 31 touchdowns. But he also rushed for 234 yards and five touchdowns, displaying the versatility that Lombardi will try to expand upon in the years to come.