Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has already established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but the former first-round pick should take yet another leap during the 2023 season. All the stars are aligning for the Pro Bowler to have his best season yet and possibly take down the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
Why Justin Herbert Will Have His Best Season Yet In 2023
A Return to Health
From a statistical standpoint, 2022 was the worst season of Herbert’s career. Appearing in all 17 games, the quarterback completed 68.2% of his passes for 4,739 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. These numbers, while solid, don’t make him look like a top-five quarterback.
However, when given the proper context, it’s easy to see why Justin Herbert had something of a down year. The Oregon product spent a good portion of the season playing with an injured throwing shoulder, and it should go without saying that it’s harder to complete passes when you can’t throw the ball without a significant amount of pain.
Justin Herbert wasn’t the only key part of the Chargers passing attack battling injuries last year. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both dealt with various ailments last year that sidelined them for parts of the season. Allen is back on the field, and all signs indicate that Williams will be ready for the start of the season.
The NFL is a physical sport and it’s always possible that injuries strike again. Fortunately, the Chargers invested a first-round pick in Quentin Johnston to ensure that they have proper depth at the position. Barring an extreme streak of bad luck, the Chargers should have all the pieces they need to build a competent passing attack.
Impossible to not be impressed with Quentin Johnston's start to the NFL, even if it is just OTA's. pic.twitter.com/YCNCHY0qWM
— Tyler Schoon (@tylerjschoon) June 5, 2023
Belief In the Forward Pass
An injured Justin Herbert led this team to 10 wins last year in spite of some of the worst playcalling in the league. Herbert is one of the best and most accurate deep passers in the league, yet Joe Lombardi refused to adjust his hyper-conservative scheme to adjust for the talent on the roster. The quarterback had one of the lowest average depth of targets last year, which is simply unforgivable with a passer this talented.
Fortunately, Los Angeles jettisoned Lombardi in favor of longtime Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Moore has a proven track record of getting the most out of Dak Prescott, and his creative scheme and downfield tendencies are a perfect match for Justin Herbert. With this coordinator and these weapons, there is no telling how good this offense could be.
Justin Herbert Was Unlucky Last Year
Even without all the other changes, there was still a good chance that Justin Herbert would be better in 2023. Herbert threw 10 interceptions last year, but a good portion of those were not his fault. In fact, he actually had more interceptions than turnover-worthy throws, which is insanely unlucky.
Turnover worthy throws vs actual interceptions (via @FantasyPtsData)
Expecting some Goff/Geno regression pic.twitter.com/wT0udBLAIv
— Football Insights 📊 (@fball_insights) June 3, 2023
This type of luck has a way of balancing out over time, so even if Herbert made the exact same throws in every single game, he’d still probably end the season with fewer interceptions than 2022.
Ultimately, Justin Herbert is one of the best quarterbacks in football, and he finally has a supporting cast worthy of his talents. He should be an MVP candidate this year while leading this team on a deep playoff run.
Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports