With the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Chargers rolled the dice on the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Oregon product, and after putting together one of the best rookie seasons in league history, Los Angeles clearly made the right decision.
In 15 games in 2020, Herbert completed an NFL record 396 passes for 4,336 yards — which included a record eight 300-yard passing games — to go along with a league-record 31 passing touchdowns, with five additional scores on the ground.
Los Angeles finished the 2020 season with a 7-9 record and third-place finish in the AFC West division, but the Chargers are set up for success moving forward because of Herbert’s ability to be the franchise quarterback.
Herbert caught up with Fox News on Wednesday on behalf of Stryve to talk about his incredible rookie season, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning Super Bowl LV, and what it’s going to be like competing against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for many years to come.
Fox News: What are your thoughts on Tom Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl title this year?
Herbert: “It’s incredible. He’s a competitor and I think the best part about the quarterback position, is you find a way. Whether he throws for 200 yards or whether he throws for 500 yards, he’s in the game. And whether he’s down or whether he’s up, he’s the same quarterback. He’s going to put his team in a position to win. He’s been able to do that for longer than anyone else. Just being able to watch his career has been so much fun.
“The two guys when I was first introduced to football were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. And Tom Brady has just gone on to have such an incredible career. Both of those guys are incredible quarterbacks. I’ve been able to watch Tom Brady for a long time. He’s been playing for as long as I can remember. It’s insane. So when you think about football, you just think about Tom Brady.”
Fox News: What would it be like playing in the Super Bowl next year in your home city of Los Angeles?
Herbert: “It would be an incredible opportunity. The stadium that they’ve built here is incredible. Just being able to play in it is a huge honor. I really believe in this staff, I believe in this locker room, and I know that we’ve got a lot of potential. It’s all about putting those pieces in the right places here. The offseason is going to be huge. And learning this new playbook here pretty soon. There’s a lot to work on, but I’m really excited to move forward.”
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) runs against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Fox News: Have you talked to new Chargers head coach Brandon Staley yet? What was that dialogue like?
Herbert: “We’ve met a bunch of times. He brings the energy. He’s an exciting guy that really knows a lot about football. I’ve heard from so many other people how great of a coach he is. And that meant a lot to me. When we finally got to meet up in person, and talk about it, you get that feeling of how much he actually knows. The staff that he’s bringing in is pretty special as well. Coach [Joe] Lombardi from the Saints. We’ve been able to talk about the offense a little bit. I think there are a lot of things that we did well last year in this previous offense that will carry over to this year just because of the personnel and the guys that we have. So it’s a lot to look forward to.”
Fox News: What’s it going to take to dethrone Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West?
Herbert: “It’s going to take continuous improvement. And week-in and week-out we have to be adamant about all of the things that we do. Whether the little things or the big things. Weight lifting, film watching, we have to do all of these things in the proper way because that’s what they’ve been able to do. They’ve had so much success. They’ve had so many talented guys go through there. It’s an incredible opportunity to be in the same division as them. And the [Las Vegas] Raiders and the [Denver] Broncos are also two really tough teams. Just being a part of that division has been a lot of fun this year.”
Fox News: How do you avoid a sophomore slump in Year No. 2?
Herbert: “Obviously not the year that we wanted with a 7-9 finish, but I was really proud of the way the guys battled back the last four games. To win four in a row like that was huge for us. I think personally, I need to master the playbook and we’ll get a new playbook here in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll study that so when I’m at the line of scrimmage I know exactly what to get to, given a certain coverage, a certain pressure, so that the entire offense knows exactly what we are doing.”
In this Feb. 27, 2020, file photo, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Herbert is a likely first-round pick in the NFL draft Thursday, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Fox News: What has the offseason been like for you so far?
Herbert: “It’s been watching a lot of football. I wish we were still playing during that time, but being able to watch the [Kansas City] Chiefs and the [Tampa Bay] Bucs play was an incredible opportunity. It’s been nice to kind of step away from the game a little bit, relax, and get your body back. I know how important that is for the guys up front who put their bodies on the line, week-in and week-out. But it’s time to kind of pick things back up, get back to work, and start lifting, running, and throwing in the next couple of weeks.”
Fox News: What do you need to do to change the stigma surrounding the Chargers franchise?
Herbert: “We have to keep getting better. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers. If I did, maybe we would have won the Super Bowl this past year. It’s just one of those things where you just have to keep getting better. You have to hold everyone accountable. You have to take care of the little things. Whether that’s showing up on time, tucking in your shirt… It’s all about the little things. And if you get all guys committed to that process, to that culture, I think that extends everything. It’s super important for the team. I know how close this locker room is and how much we’re capable of. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years just seeing what we can do.”
Fox News: Do you feel like you have something to prove after you were the third quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft?
Herbert: “I think it’s more so I want to prove the Chargers right. They took a chance on me, and I’ve been so thankful ever since. And I want to give them everything I’ve got. Whether it’s working out, or going out to practice, I want to give my best effort and put this team in a position to win. I think it’s been an incredible opportunity over the past couple of months. And I’ve loved this place, and I’ve loved this team, the coaching staff, and everyone in the front office.”