Forget Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert is an MVP Candidate

Garrett Sharp-Craig Editorials 55 Comments

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I know the headline may sound a little crazy, but bear with me for a second.

Justin Herbert has been electric in his five starts as the LA Chargers‘ quarterback. The former Oregon signal caller has thrown for 290 yards in each game this season including last week where he accounted for 412 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Despite his instant success, many forget that during the pre-draft process, Herbert was labeled by many experts as a bust. These so-called “experts” criticized Herbert’s leadership skills, and some doubted his ability to play in a pro-style offense.

Here is what PFF had to say in April:

Fast-forward a few months and not only is Herbert succeeding, but he is absolutely dominating. The Eugene native is in the Top 5 for yards per attempt and quarterback rating, as well as every deep-throw metric. With every game, Herbie is getting better at taking care of the football and limiting turnovers. In Herbert’s last two games he had eight total touchdowns and zero interceptions. Now, without Tyrod Taylor staring over his shoulder, Herbert can play freely and with poise.

Melissa Macatee

Herbert embraces contact and finishes a great run vs the Auburn Tigers

Herbert still has an uphill battle in the NFL MVP Race. Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers will be at the forefront of the conversation, but Herbert still has plenty of time to make up ground. He is on a similar statistical pace of guys on that list, and with two fewer starts.

It seems as though PFF has changed their original opinion on Justin Herbert:

The biggest knock on Herbert’s MVP resume is his lack of winning. Although he is 1-4 in starts, Herbert has played each team tough and has yet to lose by double digits. Herbert and the Chargers have a far easier slate in the coming weeks, with the Broncos, Raiders, Jets and Dolphins penned in for the next month. With wins in three of those four games, the Chargers could be sitting at 5-5 a little past the halfway mark of the season. If he continues to play the way he has up to this point, Herbert should be firmly positioned in the MVP race among some of the NFL’s best.

Maybe I’m just an overly-excited Duck fan, or maybe I have a point?

Garrett Sharp-Craig
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Twitter via @PFF

Natalie Liebhaber, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana.

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For Football Season: FishDuck Back to Seven Days a Week!

I had to shut down the daily articles on July 20th because I could no longer work the extra 3 to 12 hours per week of certain managerial/editorial duties. (beyond the usual ones with FishDuck)

I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.

Everybody is happy! So below is the new schedule through football season:

Monday: Mr. FishDuck
Tuesday: Darren Perkins
Wednesday: Joshua WhittedMr. FishDuck
Thursday: Coach Eric BolesAlex Heining
Friday: David Marsh
Saturday: Mr. FishDuck (GameDay Baby!)
Sunday: Jordan Ingram

A couple of writers could not join us as they have new projects in their lives, and cannot write for anyone at the moment–but perhaps we will see them back later.

Things rarely work out so well for all parties in agreements, but this time it has and truly….everyone wins!

Our 33 rules at FishDuck can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

FishDuck members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!

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Mike West

Adding to what Joshua wrote yesterday, does anybody wonder what JH would have done if he had NFL caliber WRs at Oregon? That is one of the missing pieces for the Ducks (to get that elusive title—MM sure needed them against tOSU).

Notice how few times JH overthrows his WRs deep as an NFL QB? As to his MVP chances, Playoff contenders uncover MVP contenders. Participating is nice, winning matters (even as much impact a QB has, he needs a full roster of talented players…Payton Manning anyone? Talk about one of the greatest QBs with few titles. How many times did Brady get that MVP nod over Manning?).

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

May I say the magic words that everyone loves to hear….”you were right.”

You stated a long time ago that you felt the lack of talent at wide receiver contributed to the offensive woes and we see proof of that now.

This WR group signing for 2021? Whew! Oregon is going to be deadly in the future!


Who was the last rookie to do it, Jim Brown, not likely. Great talking point, but rookie of the year is the first step and then MVP. Maybe even MVP of the Super Bowl too, some day.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Does it seem that the Chargers are only a few players away? Perhaps a good drafting position this year will give Justin that big-time shot later?


They are, and the biggest missing piece is All Pro Safety, Derwin James, out for the season with a knee injury. His absence has been notable as game after game the D couldn’t keep a lead that Justin and the offense had built early.

David Marsh

Off topic…

Though for those of you interested in trying to get an idea of what the run game is going to look like this year and the development of runningbacks here is the most recent interview with Jim Mastro. There are a few interesting tid-bits in there.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

When asked about the use of the Pistol for this next year…

“Nothing has changed as I feel the Pistol is the Great Equalizer in the Run-Game.”

Yep…it pulls Oregon down to their opponents…

Jon Sousa

Nice. Made me chuckle. I totally agree with you.

However, we should note that all of the last two years we have been saying that the pistol is made for the running QB. If the QB runs 10 or so times a game as advertised, the Pistol might be a whole lot more effective. I admit I don’t know enough about such stuff to have a valid opinion.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I gotta make an article about why I prefer the Shotgun over the Pistol. In short, the Pistol is easier to defend the QB because of the depth of the mesh between the QB and RB taking place. Thus further from the LOS, and thus not as effective in getting the QB quickly down the field.

Did anyone see this replay of Justin running for 31 yards last Sunday? Note that it is out of the Shotgun, the defensive end crashed down, and thus Justin pulled the ball and was running down the backside of the defense to either slide or run out of bounds.

THAT is how and when to run the QB, and not between the tackles as the Pistol does so often…

David Marsh

If Moorhead and Mastro can use it in more than…. Hand the ball off and watch the runningback run into a pile of players it would be an improvement.

Herbert did have a quarterback keeper off the pistol in the rose bowl that went for a touchdown… So maybe we will see how it is supposed to be used instead of crap version of the I formation.

Jon Joseph

Avast Ye Mateys! 4 starters for The Pirate have opted to jump ship, including the starting RB.

Time for some keel-haulin’ in Starkville?


You’re not supposed to take pleasure in the hardships of other people. But when it comes to Mike Leach I feel an exception can be made.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Made me laugh!

Jon Sousa

There’s a verse for that, I think it’s an interesting motivation to be nice. Proverbs 24:17-18,
Don’t laugh when your enemy falls;
    don’t crow over his collapse.
God might see, and become very provoked,
    and then take pity on his plight.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

We are not supposed to have anything with a religious tone to it here as it may offend some, but that quote made me say, “Amen!”

Unfortunately, I am not very noble sometimes. (especially when we beat the Huskies!)

David Marsh

There is a real reason why Leach didn’t see any real success at WSU until his 3rd or 4th season. Leach is a very acquired taste and when he gets the guys who buy into him and his system they can and will do some damage… until then… it won’t be pretty.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Well, if they pulled the hook on Moorhead so quickly–Leach may not get the chance. And I don’t want him back at WSU!

David Marsh

Wsu’s current coach would have to bomb super hard next year… This year doesn’t count … Even then Leach was never exactly a great face for the program… A funny face yes… But he threw his players under the bus too often when things went bad in a game that was embarrassing.

Now I’m not saying Leach was nessicarily wrong saying it was the players fault but there is coach speak that basically gives all credit to players in a win and the coach takes all the blame for a loss… It’s just taking the high road.


I will say it was necessarily wrong for Leach to say that it was the player’s fault. I don’t think it’s just “coach speak” to build the players up and the coach stays in the background. In the NFL the dynamic is very different. But I don’t see a coach calling players out publicly as a plan for success.

And success for Leach? His teams win games, they are hard to plan for. But, how many divisions have his team’s won, conferences, Bowl games?


In all this justifiable calling out of McShay & PFF, we can’t forget, Chargers Head Coach ,Anthony, “He’s a backup for a reason” Lynn.

It’s awful what happened to Taylor, who has had a solid career since being picked in the 6th round by the Ravens in 2011. But, in the course of those seasons he never had a stretch comparable to what Justin is doing from the start, and Justin will get better.


To be fair, Coach Lynn was likely looking to protect Justin from out-sized expectations; it is LA? Plus, Lynn was the guy who bought off on hiring Andrew Luck’s old mentor, Pep Hamilton, to act a QB Whisperer. Props to him for that.


Fortunately, whatever Lynn’s intentions, it’s worked out.

J Duck

At first I feel like saying… hang on there a second, rookie of the year yes but MVP??? But if he continues to improve like I has week after week and the chargers get over some of their injuries not only could they conceivably squeak into the playoffs as a wild card but Herbert could be an MVP. I doubt that it will happen and a lot of those losses they were scoring a lot of points and they were within just a few points, the Chargers defense has been hit with injuries pretty bad also and when you put up 35 a game and lose it’s not all on Herbert or the offense.

Colin Cowherd had a very interesting take yesterday. He has the statistics to back it up, all of the NFL playoff quarterbacks last year, only one was from one of the big 3 or even any other blue blood type of program. Oregon has a chance with their recent recruiting to move into that elite level, but Herbert isn’t coming from an elite college program right now. But if you look at a lot of the successful NFL quarterbacks they aren’t coming from the blue blood programs, even though a number of them are getting their chances (Oklahoma annual grad transfer Heismann winners) and DeShaun Watson has done OK…but basically none of the Alabama quarterbacks have done anything in the NFL. Tua, we’ll see. Burrough…doing ok. A number are from FCS schools. Just found that interesting.


Mario Cristobal: Naming Oregon Ducks’ starting QB ‘probably more important for the outside world than it is internally’

Jon Joseph

The competition has to be good for both. But at some point you want the #1 guy taking the majority of reps, right?


Definitely right about the reps, Jon. I think that Mario is saying that the fans Want to know who the starter is, insecure lot that we are. But for the coaches its more of a process that will work itself out, with the starter working with the 1’s, getting ready for the game.

Jon Sousa

Now, here’s a positive, fun subject to consider. Thank you Justin Herbert, for making Oregon proud! And happy! And blessed!


And “we are so sorry for not giving you the QB coaching you deserved during your years at the school”.


MVP? No. ROTY. Absolutely! It’s a race between, “Sure Thing”, Joe Burrow and the 1-5-1 Bengals & the 2-4 Chargers. We could have seen a Justin-Joe match-up in Wk 1, but Justin wasn’t starting yet. ROTY is real for Justin.

The lack of “responsibility” for hacks like McShay is my driving force. As Jon mentioned earlier how did he get his, “job” in the first place is a question. How he keeps it, after losing $5,000 in a bet to Super Hack, Mel Kiper, over when Herbert would be drafted, shows how useless he is at exactly what he does!

This season, he’s being paid, I guess. To “”Tell” us that Trevor Lawrence & Justin Fields have futures in the NFL. My aunt Mary can do that. McShay, Kiper have less credibility with me than does the, “Committee” in charge of the Invitational, at least they’re putting Alabama in, not Ball State. But for the officials missing a call, and the KC kicker making a 58 yd FG, before he started missing 50% of his kicks since, a botched hook & Ladder against the Panthers and the Chargers D giving up 28 in the 2nd half against Tampa Bay, the Chargers would be 5-1, and MVP might not be crazy talk.


Interesting take 30Duck.

shows how useless he is at exactly what he does!” yes, the man is “incompetent” for sure.

Jon Sousa

He did not say that JH would WIN the MVP. He said that JH would be a CANDIDATE for MVP. There are a lot of people in the DISCUSSION for the Heisman every year, but only three make it to New York, and only one WINS it. Will JH be in the DISCUSSION for MVP? Yes!! He already is!!! Right here.


What’s that Utah State QB (that McShay so loved) doing these days?


I checked on Jordan Love:

Stats: No available information.

Mike West

Isn’t Jordan Love in Green Bay?


Yes. His greatest contribution seems to be lighting a fire under Aaron Rodgers.


No they can’t come back and say the sky’s the limit for this young Man after burning him at the stake! That’s just pure stupid talk by people who no doubt have very limited knowledge of the game itself. I have to laugh at all the so called experts now on the internet. I’ve been around the game for a long, long time. Played a whole lot but other things became more important to me when I stopped playing and I know this game inside and out.

As far as Justin’s concerned, WOW the Chargers went from a pretty decent QB in Rivers to Hebert who doesn’t look fazed one bit and I’m totally impressed with this young Man. The future’s bright for him and I know it’s early so can you remember another Chargers QB that played for Oregon a long time ago and is a NFL HOFer. Well Justin keeps playing like he is he’ll break Dan’s records and then some and hopefully he’ll be the 3rd Oregon star to get to that coveted place.

Getting back to what they said about Justin and I have to wonder do these writers or Sports broadcasters have any Common Sense to go along with their opinions? More than likely not. A whole lot of people now days unfortunately have no common sense. So people we need to think before we speak and we all have said something stupid before and does it makes us take a double look back when we do? As far as I’m concerned before they can jump on the Justin band wagon they should apologize to the young Man, and eat a little HUMBLE PIE, and then and only then the Sky’s the limit for you.

Jon Joseph

Excellent points. Trubisky over DeShaun Watson? These folks can look at an orange and convince themselves it’s a grapefruit.

It’s unfortunate that Todd McShay’s et al salaries are not based on the projected draft picks they hit on; their evaluation of how good a player will be at the next level? If this was the case, Todd and most of these folks would be in a line waiting for a free bowl of soup.

Todd McShay played QB at Swampscott HS in Massachusetts and at U of Richmond. What are the guy’s bona fides in the first place?

He watches a lot of film? WOW!

In today’s 24/7 world some kind of ‘stuff’ has to fill up the hours, right? No wonder folks are pulling the plug.


Some sports writers have to make bold contentious sayings to get readers. The good ones are more accurate.

Jon Joseph

Good take Garrett. Rookie of the Year, yes. MVP, no.

If your team is not in the Playoffs when a losing record can on occasion get a team in the playoffs, you will not win the MVP.

I do think the Chargers have 2 Ws, not 1, YTD? The Bolts won a game that Taylor started. BTW, what’s up with Taylor?


Hope everyone saw Charles late post yesterday. The 5 Oregon players who tested positive for COVID are all false positives.

Gives one a lot of faith in the testing process, right? How can a lab come up with 5 false positives and still be allowed to perform tests?

BTW, BYU has been playing ball for weeks. Games have been canceled in the ACC and the SEC but both conferences started early enough to have ‘make-up’ dates. It is going to stink if a game(s) is canceled due to false positives.


Tyrod is a Game manager and that’s not a bad thing he’s just not to me a great starting QB. He’ll win you some games and for the most part take care of the ball and those are all great traits to have as an NFL QB. He just can’t throw the ball down the field like Justin obviously can. I should ask who of the Chargers offensive playmakers would rather be thrown to now? That’s a easy answer now and Tyrod’s starting days are limited in Hollywood now. Hopefully Justin stays healthy and to me he’s obviously the best player on that team. To me their record is clearly from a lack of an elite Defense. They could just as easily be perfect if not for that D. Can they get better, well lets hope so for Justins sake and the MVP.

Jon Joseph

Thanks MTD.


It sure smells like Lazy Larry had a hand in setting up the Pac-12 schedule for this year.


Although I would like to agree with you on this, I don’t. I think you are just an overly-excited fan, but thats ok to be one at this time, because we all need a hero and Justin certainly fills that itch. At a time when good news is rare (like now), Justin is once again giving us Oregon fans the gift of pride and jubilation.

MVP candidate, I think not, but rookie of the year is definitely a possibility. Justin is doing very good but the Chargers as a team are not. For one thing he defense needs to learn how to tackle and one has to remember there is a reason a team gets to pick early in the NFL draft and the Chargers as a team fit that reason. The Chargers are less than mediocre as a team but have rallied behind a young talented QB that many said he wasn’t.

The best news is that Justin finally has a QB coach that can help him reach his potential, something he did not have his entire college career at Oregon.

Jon Joseph

Great take. The coaching is better, so are the guys he is throwing the ball to.

Across the CFB and NFL landscape, tackling in 2020 seems to have disappeared? I think COVID ‘limiting’ practice has had a bigger affect on D than on O?

And with the way targeting is called and isn’t called in CFB, I’m not surprised kids are wary about tackling? Targeting in CFB is a complete crap shoot. It all depends on who is doing the reviewing. The decisions on targeting are all over the map.

BTW, how about Auburn? SEC refs have so far gifted Auburn the KY, Arkansas and Ole Miss games; and his knee was down!

Speaking of Auburn. LSU cops to the fact that a player’s Dad was paid $180K for his son to play at LSU. Think LSU will be dinged 2 bowl games and 30 scholarships?


Well like I’ve always said the SUCK I mean SEC has a different set of rules apparently than all other conferences. I believe Scam Newton did indeed get paid to play for Auburn that year and their Coach in Chizlick who really wasn’t that great of a Coach as Chip was. Newton was the reason they won it all and they walked all over the SEC that year except for our beloved Ducks pretty much kept him in check that whole game. I will to this day say Chips EGO cost those players that game when he refused to do it differently when the running game wasn’t working and yes why would you keep testing Nic Fairley as much as he did. Sometimes you just have to concede that the player across from your O lineman is a whole lot better. Chip Oh Chip why didn’t you Coach to get that win for Oregon and your players?

Jon Joseph

In fairness, Cam’s Dad got paid but CAM didn’t know about it, right?

100% agree on Chip’s play calling in the BCS champ game.