Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert gets a lot of attention, particularly on social media, with what he can do with his arm. Every week Herbert delivers a throw that gets fans out of their seats, and gets Twitter buzzing as well.
But on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, something else stood out about the Chargers young quarterback.
Herbert threw a pair of short touchdown passes in the Chargers’ win over the Rams, and on both plays, it was what Herbert did with his eyes that created the eventual throwing window.
The first touchdown came in the third quarter, with the Chargers out to a 17-10 lead. With the Chargers facing a 3rd and 3 from the Rams’ 6-yard line, Herbert stood in the shotgun to read the Rams defense.
As the play begins, Herbert opens to his left, where Mike Williams is running an in cut and Austin Ekeler is running a wheel route. But as he opens to his left, that influences linebacker Bobby Wagner, in underneath coverage, to slide a step or two in that direction.
That’s when Herbert snaps his eyes to tight end Gerald Everett, running a stop route in the middle of the field. That little bit of space Herbert creates with his eyes is enough, as he unleashes a rocket to the tight end, just out of reach from Wagner underneath:
The end-zone angle of this play is fantastic, as you can see the few steps that Wagner takes to his right, and the window that results for Herbert to target Everett on the stop route over the ball.
Herbert’s second touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, with the Chargers facing another 3rd and 3, this time at the Rams’ 3-yard line. This time, the Rams are in man coverage, with Russ Yeast as the single-high safety.
The Chargers run a slant/fade combination on the left, with Mike Williams running the fade out of the slot while Keenan Allen runs the slant route underneath. With this combination coming close to the goal line, you might expect Herbert to target Allen, as Williams creates traffic for him with his release.
That’s certainly what Yeast expects. As the play begins, Herbert looks at that concept, and the safety breaks in that direction.
But as Herbert finishes his drop, he snaps his eyes back to the right, picking up tight end Donald Parham Jr., who is running an in-breaking route to the middle of the field. Herbert snaps off a throw, and thanks to the space created with his eyes, Parham pulls in the touchdown to extend the Chargers’ lead:
To be clear, both of these are great throws too. The first is an absolute rocket — which did get Twitter buzzing at the time Herbert made it — while the second is put in the perfect spot for Parham.
But sometimes to make great throws as a QB, you have to create some space with your eyes.
Something Herbert does pretty good too.