Once again, the Los Angeles Chargers have had their season derailed due to injury. If it wasn’t for that fact, they’d be serious contenders due to the emergence of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. The former Oregon gunslinger is on pace for a record-breaking rookie season and the future is incredibly bright for him.
“This guy’s the real deal. He is a problem for everybody in the AFC,” Gruden said of Herbert. “He’s further along than most rookies. He has shown the ability to throw the ball in the tight windows. He’s made athletic plays and shown great toughness.”
The Raiders get their first crack at Herbert in Week 9 and it’ll be a glimpse of what they can expect from their rival in the future. If Herbert carves up the struggling Las Vegas defense, the Raiders could be in trouble.
ALL the latest Las Vegas Raiders news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Paul Guenther Praises Herbert
Herbert has blown everybody away so far this year but he’s still a rookie and will make mistakes. If the Raiders hope to stay over .500, they’ll need to continue to show some signs of life on defense. The team knows stopping Herbert is the key to victory.
“He’s got a strong arm,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Thursday of Herbert. “He’s hit a lot of deep balls throughout his course of time he’s been in there. He’s come in early in the season and, really, he’s been acting like he’s a veteran player. So, he can make all the throws, he can move around the pocket and cause some issues with his legs, and I think he’s playing at a really good, high level. He’s got a lot of good guys around him to get the ball to, as well.”
The Raiders haven’t had much luck stopping any quarterbacks this year. If they put together another weak defensive gameplan, Herbert is likely to tear them up. It’s still early in his career but the rookie has shown a ridiculous amount of promise.
Should Raiders Worry About Herbert?
The AFC West already has the best young quarterback in the NFL. If Herbert keeps playing at a high level, then the division has two. Right now, Derek Carr should still be considered the second-best quarterback in the division behind Patrick Mahomes. However, Herbert is catching up fast. The AFC West is a hard division to win and it looks like it’s only going to get harder.
The jury is still out on Drew Lock in Denver but there could be three AFC West quarterbacks who get Pro Bowl consideration this year. The emergence of Herbert should worry every team in the division. Fortunately, Carr is still under 30 and playing at a high level. If he keeps playing well, the Raiders are contenders in the division, even if Herbert is a stud. That said, the AFC West is poised to be the strongest division in the NFL within the next couple of years.