Standing Tall: Justin Herbert’s Unsung Virtue

Mike West Analysis

Oregon fans and critics alike have sung the praises of Eugene’s own Justin Herbert. The cannon arm, the prototype quarterback physique, and the sneaky athleticism that led the Ducks to a Conference Championship and Rose Bowl win, all reasons for Herbert’s selection by the Los Angeles Chargers at the six spot in this year’s NFL Draft.

But one virtue remains unsung.  Ducks/Charger alumnus and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts was famous for standing tall in the pocket and throwing accurately as he took a hit. Will Herbert continue this tradition for the ‘Bolts?

Standing Tall? Why Is That Important?

Well for starters, it allows wide receivers more time to get open. Let’s view another Duck quarterback as an example.

Above is footage of Darron Thomas who was known for standing tall in the pocket and delivering accurate passes under pressure. It was astonishing at times how brave he must have been because often the Ducks would run a play-action pass, which meant that Thomas had less protection by design on the play. The best aspect: both receivers had more time to find gaping holes in the secondary.

But Mike, Both Receivers Were Open Anyway!

Perhaps. But what impact did Thomas’s pocket bravery have on the defense? Within striking distance of a sack, “Cruisin to lay a Bruisin” dissolved into fairy dust.

In the video above, Herbert delivers a laser to Mycah Pittman as the wide receiver breaks off his out route. All this amidst a menacing defensive end lunging at the stoic quarterback. The ultimate impact? Herbert stymies an intimidating pass rush, silences a ferocious Fusky crowd, and helps his Ducks move the chains.

That Wasn’t Intimidating!

Indeed it was, yet the effort was squashed.  But wait, The Kool-aid King has more!  Repeatedly thwarting sacks with quick passes deflates egos on defense and triggers doubts they can stop a tough quarterback that risks punishment as he stands tall. And it doesn’t end there…

Note the impact of the pass completion in the above video. The ultimate weapon: the explosive play.  Plays Chip Kelly imprinted in our  minds with his pinball running attack. I’ve clearly emphasized the vital aspects of designing a  lethal offense.

Explosive plays (plays resulting in gains of 20 or more yards) are the ignition that launches offenses into the stratosphere.  Sequential plays, (like the first play of Thomas‘ video), Clutch plays (like the first video of Herbert above), and explosive plays like Herbert’s second video (and both of Thomas’ plays) are the perfect storm. Boom Boom Boom, Touchdown!

Statues Don’t Score Points

But quarterbacks do.  Especially after an explosive play demoralizes a defense that missed its kill shot, as a wide receiver gains time to get open deep.

Justin Herbert – another Duck quarterback that perfected a skill that stamped an imprint into the minds of Duck fans the world over – like the Oregon logo at midfield.

Who’s next?

Mike West
Las Vegas, Nevada
Top photo by Pac-12 Video

Phil Anderson, the Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.



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