When we picked up the Oregon Ducks starting quarterback during the NFL season, we noticed how much he cares. He wants to win and was an emotional wreck after losing the first game of the season to FCS opponent Portland State. But what we didn’t realize at the time was that those emotions would show up in another, more subtle way.
In the eyes of many, Oregon’s standout freshman QB Justin Herbert has been a special player since he arrived at UO in the fall. But not everyone is a fan of his persona. Today, I’m going to give you a glimpse into a side of Herbert that many Oregon fans don’t see.
Herbert is moving up to the NFL after three years in college football, and has signed his first pro contract with the 49ers. He’s an extremely talented quarterback, and he’s still only 19 years old, so everyone is looking forward to what he can do in the pros. As an Oregon Duck, he’s endured immense pressure and scrutiny, but so far it doesn’t seem to have worn him down. After all, he’s not the only one with big shoes to fill.
Justin Herbert, a second-year quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, has taken the NFL world by storm. Behind LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, the squad selected the eventual Rookie of the Year with the No. 6 selection. Herbert will go on to become an NFL great quarterback after a surprising start in Week 2. Despite the multimillion-dollar deal and increasing recognition and praise, Herbert remains extremely grounded and restrained. That is, until you do something in the supermarket that gets a lot of people angry, including Herbert.
Justin Herbert is gearing up for a huge second season.
Getty Images | Justin Herbert | Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire
In Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season, the unassuming former Oregon Duck was given a surprising start. The Chargers’ training staff inadvertently punctured starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s lung a half hour before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs, which resulted in this.
Herbert completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards and one score with one interception. He also scored on the ground. Most significantly, he led the reigning Super Bowl champions to overtime, despite a 23-20 loss.
The remainder of the year played out in a startlingly similar fashion. Herbert passed for 4,366 yards and 31 touchdowns, breaking Baker Mayfield’s rookie passing record. However, the club went 2-8 in the following ten games. The good news for Herbert and the Chargers is that they ended the season with a four-game winning streak, finishing the season with a 6-10 record.
The Chargers will have a new head coach (former Los Angeles Rams DC Brandon Staley) and offensive coordinator (former New Orleans Saints OC Joe Lombardi) in 2021. The club also spent a lot of money on improving the offensive line of the 6-foot-6 quarterback. In the 2021 draft, the team selected Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater at No. 13 overall and signed All-Pro center Corey Linsley from Green Bay.
These shifts, along with the typical progression of a quarterback’s first and second seasons, may spell great things for Herbert and the Bolts in 2021.
Except when it comes to one personal gripe, Herbert is generally a laid-back man.
I spent a few days in Oregon doing a profile on Justin Herbert, a hero to long-suffering Chargers fans, introverts, and anybody who believes that grocery store carts should be returned to their proper place. Take a look at this: https://t.co/SMxDG631Ei
September 2, 2021 — Mina Kimes (@minakimes)
Despite his apparent athletic abilities, Herbert has always had one flaw. His laid-back attitude and reclusive nature have caused coaches to doubt his leadership abilities, from Willie Taggart at Oregon to the clubs contemplating selecting him in the NFL.
The native of Eugene, Oregon, may become agitated at times. Especially when it comes to an all-too-common shopping pet peeve.
Herbert’s teammate and former roommate, Chargers fullback Gabe Nabers, recounted a tale of a time when he witnessed Herbert lose his cool in an ESPN article by Mina Kimes. It included someone abandoning their grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot, something many of us can relate to. According to Kimes, the tale goes like this:
Herbert’s anger flared just once, according to Nabers, when he attempted to leave his grocery shop cart in the parking lot. ‘The first time we went shopping, I was like, Eh, I’ll just leave it here,’ he recalls, pantomiming a slight shove. ‘And he said, ‘No.’ ‘Retract your steps all the way back.’
Justin Herbert’s pet annoyance, according to Gabe Nabers
For most people, a mild reprimand isn’t a huge issue. This reprimand, on the other hand, made an impact on Herbert’s friend. It also demonstrates that Herbert can do and say what is required when it is required (as it is when someone does not return their shopping cart!).
The Chargers may make the playoffs in 2021 if they have quiet leadership.
Herbert is described as a calm leader who maintains his composure even when things are going badly in the ESPN profile. While Herbert and former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers have very different approaches, star wideout Keenan Allen claims that “Rivers and Herbert have the same competitive fire, it just expresses itself in different ways.”
The Chargers may go a long way in 2021 if they maintain this modest competitive spirit. The organization has a genuine opportunity to be a playoff team with the new coaches, their offensive leader, an improved offensive line, and a star-studded defense with Joey Bosa and Derwin James.
It will be tough to win the division. The Chiefs have dominated for many seasons and will most likely do it again if they remain healthy. However, the Chargers should have an advantage over the Raiders and Broncos in the AFC West.
As a result, the Los Angeles Rams will have to compete for a Wild Card place alongside the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and two of the three AFC North clubs who do not win their division.
The Chargers have a genuine chance to make noise in the playoffs if the coaches can get the most out of the whole squad, especially Herbert.
They should probably inform Herbert that Patrick Mahomes never returns his shopping carts.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
RELATED: Justin Herbert’s Rapid Rise from Oregon’s 6th-string quarterback to NFL MVP Candidate
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