Chargers vs Panthers Preview: Can Justin Herbert do to LA what Tom Brady did to Patriots 19 years ago?
In one of the episodes of 'Hard Knocks: Los Angeles', Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor was seen sweating it out at the gym in the wee hours of the morning. There was a sense of commitment and he had what Apollo Creed called, "The Eye of the Tiger" in 'Rocky III' when he trained. The efforts he put in ahead of the season rewarded him when he walked out as the starting QB for Anthony Lynn's side. His impressive start against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 was enough to see him start for a few more games. Except, he received a Clubber Lang-style blow during the scrimmage that saw him crack two ribs. Nonetheless, he played through it and even took part in the practice the following week.
However, the latest piece of news comes across as both bane and blessing. For Taylor, it's unfortunate while backup QB rookie, Justin Herbert will be putting on his helmet in the injured star's absence. Especially after the team doctor accidentally punctured his lung just before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs. With Taylor out indefinitely, the onus is on Herbert as he starts again when the Los Angeles Chargers meet the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, September 27. In the meantime, the team is still sweating over the injury with Lynn saying, "If Tyrod is 100%, he's our quarterback," according to ESPN. While the injury by itself isn't career-threatening, Taylor will miss some quality game time and that may go on for weeks or the entire season. And until such time he's ready to take the field, its Herbert's time to shine.
Not that he had a bad game when the Chargers lost against the Chiefs. He ended the day by throwing 22-33 for 311 yards with one passing touchdown, one interception, and another touchdown on the ground. His play did garner praise and even Patrick Mahomes had some words of encouragement post the game. "Hey man, way to play man. Going to play for a long time," he said, according to 247 Sports. "Just stay away from those big hits. I learned early, you gotta stay away from them."
And while this is an early time, it's hard to not shake off that feeling of what happened to QB Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots in 2001. The Patriots took on the New York Jets and after being hit by Mo Lewis, the linebacker for the Jets, Bledsoe suffered a collapsed lung and a sheared blood vessel in his chest, which almost resulted in his death. Tom Brady took over from that moment and the Patriots went to the playoffs. That was also the start of Brady's brilliance as he meteorically rose to become one of the GOATs to have played the game.
Herbert is now the starter. He's taking charge of his teammate down with a punctured lung and had actually had a remarkable start to his season. He was the sixth overall draft pick this year and speculations are rife if he can do a Brady for the Chargers. And even though Lynn heavily backs Taylor to recover faster, the game against the struggling Panthers, who have lost both their games so far, is a chance for Herbert to cement his spot in the side. The Chargers' last Super Bowl appearance was in 1994 and they've reached the playoffs five times.
The only question remaining is if Herbert is the man to pull off a Brady and take the Chargers all the way to glory.
Los Angeles Chargers vs Carolina Panthers
Kickoff time: 1:00 PM ET/ 10:00 AM PT
Venue: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
Listen: NFL Game Pass, Westwood One, and Sirius XM