Justin Herbert is the PFWA Rookie of the Year
January 28, 2021
The first round of the NFL Draft was held on the evening of April 23rd, 2020 and it appeared at the time that the Chargers had a good night. The Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) confirmed that with the selection of Justin Herbert they drafted the next NFL Rookie of the Year. Herbert was selected with the 6th pick of the first round that evening.
Herbert played in 15 games (all starts), and threw for 4,336 yards, which ranks second all-time among NFL rookie quarterbacks. He completed 396 of 595 passes (66.6 percent) and threw for an NFL rookie-record 31 touchdowns. His 36 total TDs (31 passing and 5 rushing) were also the most by a rookie in NFL history. He set NFL rookie quarterback records for most consecutive games with multiple passing touchdowns (seven), most 300-yard passing games (eight) and most games with three or more passing touchdowns (six).
Herbert was selected NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in both October and November. Herbert took over as the Chargers' starting quarterback in Week 2 vs. Kansas City after an injury to Tyrod Taylor. To get a good understanding of how good Herbert was this past season, the eight 300-yard passing games were seven more than Taylor had in his entire career in 47 starts.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had eight 300-yard passing games this season, in his third season in the NFL. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and was second team All-Pro. Before this season, Allen had never had a 300-yard passing game. It is unusual for a rookie to step in and play as well as Herbert did. Pro Football Focus (PFF) rated the Chargers offensive line as the worst in the NFL in 2020, so Herbert's accomplishments look even better when considering the play of the offensive line.
Herbert was selected the PFWA Rookie of the Year and PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year. Rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. made the PFWA All-Rookie team along with Herbert. Murray was selected in the first round with the 23rd pick overall, capping an excellent first round for the Chargers. The Chargers traded second and third round picks to the New England Patriots to move up into the first round to select Murray.
Murray led the Chargers in solo tackles with 68 and total tackles with 107. He is just scratching the surface of his talent. With new head coach Brandon Staley installing a new defensive system that favors putting the best players in a position to be successful, Murray should be in-line to improve on his rookie season. Staley has said that Murray has "the traits to be a complete linebacker."
Staley was the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator this past season. The Rams ranked No. 1 in total defense, No. 1 in passing defense and No. 1 in scoring defense, while finishing with the third-best rushing defense. Several players on defense had career best seasons for the Rams, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Donald was selected as the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year. Donald had 13.5 sacks, a league-high 98 total pressures, 27 quarterback hits and 14 tackles for loss, leading the Rams in all categories. With young talent like Herbert and Murray on the roster, Charger fans have hope for a better future.