LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Lynn has taken the temporary starter tag off quarterback Justin Herbert.
The Los Angeles Chargers coach on Thursday named Herbert the starter for the rest of the season, beginning with Monday night’s game at New Orleans.
“He has impressed me from the very beginning. I think he’s shown the consistency that you look for, especially in a rookie quarterback,” Lynn said. “He’s made some pretty nice throws and some great plays. So I think this young man is just going to continue to get better.”
Tyrod Taylor was the starter going into the season and directed the Chargers to a Week 1 win over Cincinnati. But the 10-year veteran suffered a rib injury during the game and then suffered a punctured lung while receiving a pain-killing injection before LA’s Sept. 20 game against Kansas City. Taylor was taken to the hospital and Herbert found out he was getting his first NFL start less than a minute before kickoff.
Lynn said after that game — a 23-20 overtime loss to the Chiefs during which Herbert became the ninth QB since the merger to throw for 300 yards in his first start — that Taylor would return under center when he was “100%.” Herbert’s play changed Lynn’s mind.
With Taylor returning to practice this week, Lynn said he made the decision Tuesday and informed both players.
“Tyrod is a veteran quarterback with a winning record in this league. I thought it would have been ideal for us to play this year with him as a starter and Justin to watch and learn, similar to what Patrick Mahomes did in Kansas City. But it didn’t work out that way,” Lynn said. “He got thrown into fire. And I thought he handled the situation well, and I want to see more of him. And it’s not going to be a situation where he’s looking over his shoulder.”
The NFL Players Association has an ongoing investigation into how a team doctor punctured Taylor’s lung. It is the second time in three years Taylor has lost his job due to an injury. He started three games in Cleveland in 2018 before suffering a concussion. Baker Mayfield replaced Taylor and held the job for the rest of the year.
Herbert, who was the sixth pick in April’s draft, has thrown for at least 290 yards in all three starts, which have been losses. His 931 yards are second in NFL history for QBs through the first three games of their career. He has thrown five touchdowns, including two last week that were over 50 yards, and three interceptions.
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said Herbert has not flinched under the pressure of being the starter.
“He’s playing well. The ball is rarely hitting the ground,” Steichen said. “And he has stood in the pocket and made some big time throws. So we’re excited about him moving forward.”
Herbert has been pressured on 31.9% of his dropbacks, which is fourth highest in the league, according to Statradar, but he is 19 of 25 for 330 yards and two touchdowns while being blitzed. His 144.2 passer rating on blitz situations is second in the league, according to STATS.
Saints coach Sean Payton said during a conference call that Herbert’s throws while being blitzed have stood out.
“He has the arm talent that makes those throws where his feet don’t always have to be exactly set. But more impressive is his ability to recognize where the ball has to come out,” Payton said.
Lynn said Taylor would practice this week and be the backup Monday night if he is ready. That might be the only good news for a Chargers offense that is dealing with major injuries. Running back Austin Ekeler is likely to miss the next three games due to a hamstring strain while right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back), right guard Trai Turner (groin) and wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring) missed last week. The three didn’t practice Thursday and are questionable for this week.
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