Chargers QB Herbert takes in stride another offseason of learning a new offense and playbook

Thu, Jun 13, 2024
NFL News (AP)

Chargers QB Herbert takes in stride another offseason of learning a new offense and playbook

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) - Justin Herbert having to learn a new playbook and working with a different offensive coordinator in college and the NFL has become a familiar routine.

Herbert, along with many Los Angeles Chargers fans, are hoping that the new regime of coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman will be around for awhile.

As the Chargers wrapped up their offseason program on Thursday, Herbert was pleased with what he was able to accomplish in the past couple of months.

"Greg has done a great job of installing it and demonstrating exactly what he sees from the offense," Herbert said. "It's definitely a complex, difficult offense to learn, but we've done our best to pick it up. A lot has been thrown at us, but with the way we've picked it up and attacked it, I'm looking forward to running it."

Roman is the fourth offensive coordinator Herbert has worked with since he was the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft. He also had three offensive coordinators during his four seasons at Oregon.

Harbaugh is the sixth head coach Herbert has had in college and the pros.

While some quarterbacks would get unnerved over the constant changes, Herbert has tried to take the opposite approach.

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"I would say that it's a good opportunity to learn more football. Because I think at the end of the day, a lot of the concepts are similar. They're just called something else," he said. "The identity of the offense vary with the coordinator, but understanding the concepts and if it's still Cover 3, these are the beaters and if it's Cover 2, these are the beaters, that part of football doesn't change."

Roman said Herbert's ability in picking up different systems has been pretty remarkable.

"I mean, as deep as he dives into things, every offense he has been in has been a deep dive. To be in June right now and have him where he is with us and what we're doing speaks volumes," Roman said. "We've tried to overload him a couple times, and it just wasn't happening."

Herbert said they went through three full installations of the offense during the offseason program, and that there is a good base for things to continue to evolve going into training camp when it begins next month.

Installing a new offensive scheme wasn't the only significant change for Herbert. Four of his top five playmakers from his first four seasons in the league are no longer on the roster. The two biggest departures were wide receivers Keenan Allen (traded to Chicago) and Mike Williams (released) while running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Gerald Everett signed elsewhere during free agency.

Herbert also will have two new running backs in Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins as well as two new offensive lineman (center Bradley Bozeman and rookie right tackle Joe Alt).

"It's tough to replace guys like that just because there's not many like them," Herbert said. "You could guess that it would be difficult (with younger, inexperienced receivers) but it hasn't been. They've picked up everything, even the draft picks. We're all learning a new offense, but the way everyone has attacked it, it's been good to see."

All of the personnel changes, as well as Harbaugh's philosophy of being a physical offense that can run the ball, should also hopefully reduce the injury risk to Herbert.

In the past two seasons, Herbert has had bruised ribs, a torn labrum to his non-throwing shoulder and two broken fingers, including one on his throwing hand that caused him to miss the final four games last season.

Herbert had surgery on the finger in mid-December and was back to throwing a football in March.

At 63.5%, the Chargers have had the second-biggest rate of passing plays over the past three seasons. That figure is expected decrease this upcoming season.

"We want to be great at running and throwing the ball. We want to have balance with our offense," Roman said. "We're not just going to just run the ball into a brick wall. Sometimes the illusion of wanting to run the ball a lot is just as powerful as the ability to."

Herbert isn't concerned with how many throws he will get per game, as long as it translates into wins.

"Selfishly, as a quarterback, I'd love to throw the ball every time. But if we we throw it one time or we throw it 100 times, as long as we're winning and find a way to do that, it's good with me," he said.



JOE REEDY Sports writer based in Los Angeles. twitter mailto "
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