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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

NFL scout: Justin Herbert isn’t an ‘elite’ quarterback, ‘struggles reading defenses’ for the sputtering L.A. Chargers

Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers entered the 2023 season with high expectations.

Herbert led the Chargers to a playoff berth last season and with a roster loaded with talent, they were expected to make a legitimate push toward not only the playoffs, but a run at the Super Bowl in 2023. So far, not so good. Following a discouraging 27-24 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, the Chargers have started the season with two consecutive losses. Not surprisingly, the pressure is increasing inside the Chargers’ locker room.

Coach Brandon Staley was already on the hot seat following the Chargers’ collapse – they blew a 27-0 lead and lost 31-30 – against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Wild Card playoff game last season. Herbert, armed with the new five-year, $262 million contract extension he signed in July, is drawing more scrutiny, too.

At least one NFL scout hasn’t been overly impressed with Herbert’s performances during the first two games of the season.

[Herbert] isn’t elite, first of all. He has elite talent. But, struggles reading defenses,” an AFC Scouting Director told fanbuzz.com. “He threw it into double coverage at least five times and didn’t complete one of them. He threw it into zone coverage right in the middle of a defense instead of to the edges. He’s a pre-determined thrower, not a passer.”

Herbert completed 27-of-41 passes for 305 yards with two touchdowns against the Titans. He has completed 50-of-74 passes for 534 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 67.6% of his passes this season.

Some Chargers’ fans might counter the anonymous scout is far too harsh on Herbert. The Chargers are fourth in the NFL in total offense (387.5 yards per game) and sixth in scoring (29 points per game), and they produced the numbers despite running back Austin Ekeler missing the game against the Titans with an ankle injury. The problem is the Chargers’ defense, which is allowing a NFL-worst average of 438.5 yards and 31.5 points per game, 30th in the league.

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