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Justin Herbert Says Rivals Make Chargers Better

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 30, 2021

It’s been a whirlwind week for the Los Angeles Chargers and a good one to be quarterback of the high flying 2-1 team.

Last weekend, Justin Herbert and his offense bested the Kansas City Chiefs, on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. Even as scoring for both teams got off to a slow start, the Chargers beat Patrick Mahomes and their AFC West rivals with persistence, grit, and—put very simply—smart offense.

Herbert went 26 for 38 on passing, picking up 281 yards in the process, in a game that was tight from the beginning.

After a pair of early turnovers by Kansas City, Los Angeles struck first in the second quarter, with Herbert leading a steady drive followed by a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keenan Allen, to make it 6-0. After L.A. missed their first field goal attempt, Herbert threw a second touchdown to Austin Ekeler, along with a two-point conversion, thrown to Mike Williams, to make it 14-0.

In the second half, Herbert found Williams in the end zone twice more, to edge the Chiefs, 30-24 in the end.

But Herbert isn’t taking his hard fought win over the reigning AFC Champions or his team’s good start in 2021 for granted. He thinks that while the AFC West division is perhaps the NFL’s competitive and most fun to watch, the Chargers’ remaining 14 games hold their own share of challenges.

“I think it’s (been) an incredible opportunity to play against the Chiefs,” Herbert told me this week, during a short Q&A.

He added, not surprisingly, that Mahomes is the cream of the crop as quarterbacks go, and that the Chiefs’ so-so start to the 2021 NFL season, isn’t all that telling.

The Chargers have five games left against division rivals this season. Next up are the undefeated Las Vegas Raiders, who the Chargers will also play away on Monday Night Football, October 4.

Herbert: Easygoing Oregon boy?

Off the field, fans are likely to start seeing more of the easygoing Herbert, who is usually all smiles, in ads and TV commercials. Recently, the 23-year-old Oregon-born and bred QB was snapped up by America’s Milk Companies and MilkPEP, as a new spokesperson.

As a new member of Team Milk, Herbert joins fellow NFL players Juju Smith-Schuster and Derrick Henry, along with other professional athletes. Commenting on the new role and partnership, Herbert talked up recovery in sports.

“Because football is such a physical game, proper nutrition plays a big role in my weekly preparation,” Herbert said.

He adds that “getting your diet right” is important as professional athlete, even at his young age. “Taking care of my body allows me to be feeling my best on game day. Milk is an essential part of my routine that has really helped fuel my training and recovery.”

Herbert credits last week’s result against Kansas City to the team’s offensive weapons—namely Allen, Ekeler and Williams—as well as the Chargers’ newly promoted head coach Brandon Staley.

After the win over Kansas City, I got to hit Justin Herbert with a few quick questions about football. He seemed humble for such a young and successful quarterback, and willing to talk up others quarterbacks’ great play.

Andy Frye: So, you beat Mahomes and the Chiefs, and you had a great game. What was your mindset facing down Patrick Mahomes?

Justin Herbert: They’re about as tough as it gets and they’ve got a really special quarterback. Going in to these types of games, I focus on my preparation all week. Beginning on Monday (before the game) I watched as much film as possible. I take notes and study the game plan so that when we take the field on Sunday I can play freely.

AF: You’ve got the Raiders next, and they are on a roll at 3-0. What do your Chargers bring that may give them difficulty trying to shut you down?

Herbert: The Raiders have great athletes on defense, and they’re very well-coached. They’re playing really good football now, and we need to be at our best if we’re going to have any chance come Sunday.

My job has always been to distribute the ball to our playmakers on the outside. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Jared Cook, and Austin Ekeler have all done a great job so far, and I’ll keep doing my best to get them the ball. 

AF: The AFC West right now is a tough division, maybe the NFL’s most exciting. How do you see this all playing out?

Herbert: I think it’s a great opportunity to be a part of the AFC West. To be able to play tough competition every week is exactly why we play football in the first place.

The Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders are all playing great football and we wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s a chance for us to keep getting better because I think competition can only help.

AF: Who were your football heroes and influences? Who did young Justin Herbert want to be like?

Herbert: My father coached me throughout youth football and I think he probably had the greatest impact on my sports career. He had such an impact on me because he taught my teammates and me more than just the game of football.

In terms of football heroes though, Marcus Mariota is likely up there for me. Because I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, I was such a fan of the Oregon Ducks football team. Marcus exemplified the role of student athlete and I have been a fan of him ever since.


Read Frye’s recent interviews with Usain Bolt and Shaquille O’Neal.


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