There are many questions that keep me up at night. What happens when we die? Why is everyone arguing on Twitter? Will Iowa’s offense ever reach 200 yards in a game? Did Matt Stafford switch right arms with Chad Pennington? While these questions are unsettling, there is one that confounds me above all else: how in the hell did the Oregon Ducks squander four years of Justin Herbert on their roster?
Don’t get me wrong, the union of Oregon and Herbert was not a failure by traditional standards. He played in 43 games, threw for 10,000+ yards, and helped lead the Ducks to a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin in 2019. Apply those same parameters to almost anyone else’s career and it would seem a great success. Unfortunately, I watched all four years of Herbert at Oregon and constantly wondered why this giant man was considered a high-level NFL draft prospect but seemed tethered by his own offense. Did he lack consistency? Struggle to process pre- or post-snap? Was he just an athlete and not a quarterback? I assumed the fault lay with Herbert because how could an entire staff of highly-paid football coaches have an NFL quarterback on their roster and not unleash holy hell on everything in their path? Herbert was drafted at #6 by the Chargers and everyone agreed it was a big risk.
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As it turns out, it was not a big risk. Herbert started the second game of his NFL career after starter Tyrod Taylor’s lung was punctured by a team doctor right before kickoff against the Chiefs. He threw for 300 yards, lost a hard-fought overtime game to the defending Super Bowl champs, and hasn’t looked back. In his third season, he is an all-caps STAR. The giant man who many questioned at Oregon has become one of the most electric players in the league, an otherworldly athlete AND processor who is equally capable of eviscerating opponents from inside or outside the structure of a play. He has become my favorite quarterback in the league (*non-Aaron Rodgers edition). He is vying with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen—two other quarterbacks who parlayed questionable college careers into NFL superstardom—for the current quarterbacking belt and I change my mind every three seconds about who is the best.
Mahomes and Herbert play Thursday night. They will play each other twice per season for the foreseeable future and this is the most thrilling sentence I have ever written. Both Chiefs-Chargers games last year were instant classics—how could they not be with Mahomes and Herbert throwing lasers and moon balls all over the field? Every time I watch Herbert fit a football through a keyhole, like he did countless times on Sunday against the Raiders, I think about Mario Cristobal coaching him at Oregon and not finding a way to properly utilize one of the most gifted quarterbacks of all-time. You might lie awake tossing and turning and trying to decide between Herbert, Mahomes, or Allen—I cannot sleep because the Oregon Ducks had a transcendent quarterback on their roster for four years and we didn’t know it until he stepped into the NFL.
This Week On The Chris Rawle Show
On this episode:
- College football promises to expand the playoff from four teams to 12.
- College football is more entertaining the further you get from the top of the standings.
- The best sporting events of each week should have two things: hope from both fanbases and legit competition on the field.
- Why the NFL is a cut above the rest.
- Making a Super Bowl case for...the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons.
- What can be gleaned from NFL point spreads.
- Thoughts on the Donovan Mitchell trade and where the NBA falls short as a competitive, hopeful product.
On this episode:
- Bucs vs Cowboys: a microcosm of the career of Tom Brady.
- The Sun Belt pantses Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Nebraska.
- The kickers from BYU-Baylor are still missing field goals.
- Alabama-Texas: injuries, referees, fourth down decisions, and kicking.
- Steelers-Bengals: a game with countless twists and turns decided (as always) by special teams.