Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has not won a game in his NFL career. However, his first three starts have made fans around the league sit up and take notice of the sixth overall selection from this year’s draft. Containing him will be key for New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
Containing Justin Herbert Is Key for the New Orleans Saints Defense
New Orleans defensive coordinator Dennis Allen came under fire for his unit’s woeful performance in a 37-30 Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Head coach Sean Payton expressed his frustrations regarding Allen’s defense in his post-match interviews, claiming it was like watching a “high school” game.
Watching Aaron Rodgers march up and down the field seemingly at will left Allen in the dog house prior to the team’s Week 4 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Saints found themselves 14 points down early in Detroit. Staring three straight losses in the face. However, the defense settled down and started to make plays. They got the ball back for Drew Brees and the offense consistently throughout the second and third quarters.
An interception from veteran cornerback Patrick Robinson was the defensive highlight. The victory over Detroit also showcased improved play from the defensive line. Sacking Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford three times in the contest. Discipline and disruption upfront will be key for the Saints if they are to contain Hebert on Monday night.
Promising Start for Rookie Justin Herbert
Despite suffering three straight losses to begin his NFL career, Justin Hebert’s play has exceeded expectations in his rookie year. An injury to Tyrod Taylor meant Hebert took over the starting gig for the Chargers in Week 2. The decision was made moments before their divisional match-up against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Herbert threw for over 300 yards in a losing effort to the Chiefs. The following week in another loss, Herbert broke the 300-yard passing mark again. He enters the game against the Saints coming off his best performance as a pro. Herbert went toe-to-toe with the great Tom Brady in a shootout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Completing 80 percent of his passes, Herbert threw three touchdown passes. Two of those touchdowns came on gutsy shot plays down the field that showcased Herbert’s elite arm strength. His developing connection with Chargers superstar wide receiver Keenan Allen is concerning for Saints fans heading into Monday night. Allen has 28 receptions in Herbert’s three starts.
How to Contain Herbert
The New Orleans Saints secondary has been banged up in recent weeks. We are awaiting the latest injury updates on starting cornerbacks Marcus Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins. Both missed the teams win over the Detroit Lions.
Safety Marcus Williams will be patrolling deep for the Saints. He will be responsible for keeping the Chargers shot plays to a minimum. While fellow safeties Malcolm Jenkins and C.J. Gardner-Johnson roam around the formation attempting to confuse the rookie quarterback.
If Lattimore and Jenkins can’t go, a combination of Patrick Robinson, Ken Crawley, and P.J. Williams will attempt to slow down the Herbert to Allen connection. They will have their hands full as the depleted Chargers receiving corps found two new contributors against the Buccanneers. Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson were on the receiving end of Herbert’s long touchdown passes. Showing the rookie passer can spread the ball around even on an injury-ravaged offense.
The Saints defensive line would usually be licking their chops to get after a rookie quarterback. However, Herbert has surprisingly been one of the best in the league against the blitz. In fact, he leads the league with 433 passing yards against opposition blitzes.
Rushing with four, and dropping seven back into mixed coverages is the better gameplan for Dennis Allen’s defense. That’s not usually his style, but Herbert has shown he has rookie mistakes in him. He’s thrown three interceptions to five touchdown passes. Those interceptions have usually come when Herbert forces a ball into tight coverage. Discipline in the secondary will be crucial for a usual penalty happy New Orleans defense.
Containing Justin Hebert is key for New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. Given what we have seen out of the rookie so far. Assuming the defense will succeed is a big leap of faith.