The Chargers appear to have struck gold in drafting Justin Herbert last year at No. 6 overall, with the quarterback setting several rookie passing records en route to winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
But as good as Herbert was, his former head coach Anthony Lynn was still fired following the conclusion of the season.
Lynn is now the Lions’ offensive coordinator. But during an appearance on the Compas on the Beat podcast, Lynn explained to Gilbert Manzano and Fernando Ramirez how he didn’t want to set up Herbert to fail by playing him too early as a rookie.
“I loved Justin coming out. He was our guy and [G.M.] Tom Telesco loved him, but we did a lot of work on Justin,” Lynn said. “I did not want to expose him too soon. I’ve seen what that has done to some top picks — especially at the quarterback position. And how sometimes, those young men never recover because they’re living in a day and age where media is just right there. I mean, social media, and things spread, and some of these kids are just not mentally strong enough to overcome a lot of the negative vibes that they get early in their careers. I think that’s pretty obvious when you look at the quarterback position.
“But Justin had to go in and play. We didn’t have any choice. Tyrod [Taylor] got his lungs punctured. Justin found out as the ball was literally in the air — I’m grabbing Justin saying, ‘You’re the starter.’ And the way he handled that situation, I tell you what, he couldn’t have handled it any better.”
Herbert and the Chargers didn’t win that Week Two matchup with the Chiefs, but he threw for 311 yards with a touchdown and interception and also rushed for a TD. Herbert continued to look like he belonged the next week, throwing for 330 yards with a touchdown and interception in a loss to the Panthers.
After finishing with 4,336 yards, 31 TDs, and 10 picks in 15 games as a rookie, Herbert is well on his way to becoming one of the game’s elite quarterbacks.
“There’s a lot of things that went on that you guys will never know about [from] behind the scenes,” Lynn said. “But that’s part of him being a young, rookie quarterback. But overall, the way he handled that situation, I could not have asked for anything better. And I just think that’s going to be a great foundation for him going forward.”