Justin Herbert’s NFL debut was not planned, but his first professional season sure was a roaring success.
Herbert was named the NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, as announced Saturday during the 10th annual NFL Honors.
Herbert won the award by a 41-9 margin, with Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson taking a distant second.
Herbert started his first game in an emergency situation, spending the lead-up to Los Angeles’ Week 2 game against Kansas City with the belief he’d watch the action from the sideline behind Tyrod Taylor. Then, moments before kickoff, he was informed he was playing, surprising everyone so much that when he arrived in the huddle, teammate Hunter Henry asked, “What are you doing out here?”
The NFL quickly learned Herbert belonged on the field. Herbert broke multiple rookie records in 2020, shattering Baker Mayfield’s previous mark of 27 passing scores by throwing 31 touchdown passes in his first season. Herbert finished with the most passing yards per game for a rookie signal-caller in history with 289.1, and also posted the fourth-highest rookie passer rating in the league’s history at 98.3.
His Chargers finished 7-9, but not at the fault of Herbert, who ended 2020 sixth in total passing yards, 10th in passing touchdowns and 12th in passer rating among all qualified passers.
Herbert’s rookie season was remarkable because of the aforementioned stats, and also because of where he landed among past OROY winners. Herbert finished with more wins, passing yards and passing touchdowns than 2019 OROY Kyler Murray. He joined fellow OROY winners Dak Prescott (2016), Robert Griffin III (2012) and Cam Newton (2011) as the sixth rookie in NFL history with 20-plus passing touchdowns and five-plus rushing touchdowns. And Herbert also posted a season comparable with the average NFL Most Valuable Player, finishing with a higher completion percentage (66.6 to 63.4), more yards (4,336, to 3,787), a comparable TD-INT ratio (31-10 to 32-11) and a slightly lower passer rating (98.3 to 101.9) in relation to the average numbers compiled by the 44 quarterbacks to win MVP in the league’s history entering 2020.
Herbert is the only rookie in NFL history to throw for 4,000-plus yards after not being drafted No. 1 overall. And the former sixth-overall pick is just getting started.
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