‘Holy Crap’: Eagles Coach Has Secret Intel on Ex-Pupil Justin Herbert

justin herbert

Getty Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert.

There were times last year during training camp when Shane Steichen would stand and admire Justin Herbert. Steichen was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers, a guy who specialized in mentoring young quarterbacks. He could tell Herbert was going to be a special one early on.

Herbert would have one wow play each day at practice, then the rookie started doing it in real games. He threw for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2020 before winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Steichen, who left Hollywood to take over as Eagles offensive coordinator, cited Herbert’s physical ability as the first tell-tale sign.

“You saw the physical ability, without a doubt, him throwing,” Steichen told reporters. “You always want to know what it’s going to look like when he gets in a game. And, obviously, each week he would do something each week that was like, ‘Holy crap, that was pretty impressive.’”

Now Steichen is helping prep the Eagles’ defense on how to stop his former pupil. The Chargers are coming off back-to-back losses as Herbert leads them into Lincoln Financial Field for a Week 9 matchup. Everyone assumes blitzing him is the answer, but that’s easier said than done. The 6-foot-6, 237-pounder is deceptively elusive in the pocket. Herbert has only been sacked 14 times this season, although Bill Belichick’s Patriots got to him three times last week.

“He’s able to stand in there when the blitz is coming and he can take hits, stand there and deliver the throws,” Steichen said. “He’s smart, he’s intelligent. He gets the ball out of his hands. You’ll see on tape, a lot of times he’s hitting his back foot and boom, he’s getting the ball to the check down quickly. He has accelerated vision. Can do it all. Heck of a football player.”

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Transferring Lessons to Jalen Hurts

Steichen has been around a lot of good quarterback in his career. Prior to getting his hands on Herbert, he worked with Philip Rivers as quarterbacks coach for the Chargers. Rivers was already an established star when he got there in 2016, with five Pro Bowl appearances under his belt. So player and coach learned from each other in a symbiotic relationship.

“Philip Rivers was a coach,” Steichen said. “When you have those conversations in the quarterback room day in, day out and on the field, he sees the game so well. When you’re talking to him, he had like a picture memory.”

Steichen has taken those valuable conversations, intertwined with his experience coaching Herbert, and applied them to Jalen Hurts. The biggest thing has been balancing his workload. He doesn’t want to overload the young quarterback, but it’s important Hurts knows how to read defenses and make adjustments on the fly.

“As a rookie, it’s like, ‘Hey, what can this guy handle going into a game?’,” Steichen said. “How many kills can we have on the game plan? How many adjustments can we have throughout the game?’ So, I think that’s been good. That stuff.”

Eagles Release Brett Toth

The Eagles made a minor roster move when they released backup guard/tackle Brett Toth. The intelligent kid from Army – Toth studied physics and nuclear engineering – was kind of a surprise player to see the door.

The 304-pounder saw 14 snaps in garbage time against the Detroit Lions and made the final roster ahead of Sua Opeta coming out of training camp. Toth was also used in the Eagles’ jumbo package on goal-line plays.


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