Football, in essence, remains a cyclical sport. When old rivals fade away, new ones seem to immediately fill their spot. For the Las Vegas Raiders, Justin Herbert operates at the helm of a division foe. After sixteen seasons as a Charger, Phillip Rivers moved along to Indy. In his place, the first-rounder Herbert. Granted, while may rookie passers struggle, the Raiders could have their hands full on Sunday.
Justin Herbert completes 67.5 percent of his passes. Of those completions, he averages eight yards per attempt, tallying fifteen touchdowns and five picks. Herbert’s 1820 passing yards ranks twentieth, only 18 yards behind Derek Carr. Herbert also averages 5.1 yards per rush with two touchdowns on twenty-eight carries.
Deeper Stat Look/Profile
Basically, Herbert profiles as a big play waiting to happen. One stat bears that out. His 8.1 Intended Air Yards per attempt mean that he looks a little deep than most quarterback. Despite his rookie status, Herbert looks comfortable airing the ball out. Four of his scoring throws reside in the 50-yard-plus neighborhood. He looks to pressure secondaries and tests corners vertically, without a semblance of hesitation.
First, Herbert stands tall amongst his peers. Standing 6’6″ will do that. Next, weighing 237 pounds, he profiles as someone able to shake off blitzers with power. Now, where the Raiders need to take heed is the serious arm strength. Granted, scouts, analysts, and coaches always preach how certain quarterbacks can make all the throws. However, where the Chargers rookie differs is his ability, but a willingness to attempt the throw. Nothing on the route tree is closed for Herbert. Regardless of down or distance, you will see him dare defenses.
On pure velocity and placement, he spins the ball with power. The ball looks effortlessly thrown 60 yards or so off of his arm. More importantly, if he had to throw the ball through a narrow window, count on his trying. Meanwhile, despite his frame, Herbert easily escapes the pocket and creates space and throwing lanes. While he will not blaze downfield, the rookie’s knack for positive rushing yardage gives him an added dimension.
How to Attack
Paul Guenther, weather-aided or not, schemed the Raiders to a cold-weather victory in Cleveland. In all fairness, the Chargers boast two top-flight wideouts. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen allow Herbert access to all areas of the field. First, Allen, the consummate route technician and possession wideout, gives the Chargers underneath production. Meanwhile, Mike Williams stretches the field, giving Hebert downfield opportunities.
As weird as this sounds, expect Clelin Ferrell to play a significant role. If there is one team that he excels against, it’s LA. Beyond that, ensure Littleton tails Hunter Henry. Additionally, watch for Austin Ekeler on passes from the backfield. Last week, Lamarcus Joyner saw time at safety. Keep that same energy and allow him to play to strength. As fas as the pass rush, send extra rushers. He is still a rookie and will birddog a target while under duress. The Las Vegas Raiders can do enough to frustrate Justin Herbert into mistakes.