Right after the Los Angeles Chargers took him with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Justin Herbert became a huge revelation.
He immediately emerged as a superstar quarterback, setting a league record for most touchdown passes thrown by a rookie.
This past season, Herbert built on what he did in 2020, throwing for 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns while ranking near the top of the NFL in several key categories.
He was rewarded for his efforts with a Pro Bowl nod, and although the Chargers missed the playoffs by a very slim margin, it looks almost inevitable that he will someday win the league MVP award.
Could that day be coming this season?
Herbert Is A Gamer
It’s one thing to put up the prolific numbers that Herbert has recorded, let alone in one’s first two seasons.
But perhaps his most impressive quality is his ability to come through in pressure situations.
In Week 15 of his rookie year, he led L.A. to a clutch win in overtime against its division rivals, the Las Vegas Raiders, by scoring the game-winning touchdown on a short run near the goal line.
Overall, he completed 22-of-32 passes and threw two touchdowns and no interceptions in that contest.
OFFICIALLY ONE MONTH UNTIL NFL FOOTBALL 🚨
Here’s the 2020 OROY dismantling the Raiders in primetime to celebrate.
Justin Herbert is +1800 to win MVP this season. Worth a play? 🧐
— br_betting (@br_betting) August 9, 2021
Although the Chargers lost in the final week of the 2021 season to the Raiders, Herbert did just about all he could to give his team a chance to win by converting several clutch plays.
The Chargers Will Be An Improved Team
L.A. will look much the same on offense, but its defense, which was one of the NFL’s worst in 2021, has been drastically revamped.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson was signed to improve the Chargers’ secondary, and he should completely change the tone on that side of the ball for the team.
“LA’s defense is now about as talented & dynamic as any we’ve seen. With Swiss Army knife, Derwin James, star rookie Asante Samuel Jr, and Nasir Adderley who hit his stride last year. Jackson is the immediate CB1 who can mentor Samuel Jr.”
– NFL Scout on #Chargers’ J.C. Jackson pic.twitter.com/0N4DNQxGho
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) March 24, 2022
Pass rusher Khalil Mack has also signed with Los Angeles, and he will team with Pro Bowler Joey Bosa to consistently harass opposing quarterbacks this coming season.
The Chargers have also signed three new defensive tackles to address what was a very porous run defense in 2021.
All these additions will allow L.A. to win close games, a weakness it has had, which will take pressure off Herbert and make him look better by virtue of making it easier for him to win more games.
Other MVP Contenders Don’t Have As Strong A Case
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who has won the last two regular season MVP awards, won’t have Davante Adams by his side anymore, and his numbers could dip as a result.
Adams will now play with Derek Carr in Vegas, but Carr isn’t quite as dynamic as Herbert, although he has become a very good signal-caller in his own right.
Tyreek Hill has separated from Patrick Mahomes, and Hill’s new QB, Tua Tagovailoa, doesn’t look anywhere close to MVP material as of now.
Russell Wilson could have a great bounce-back year with the Denver Broncos, but he may not have enough offensive weapons to boost his numbers.
Right now, the top contender for the MVP appears to be Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen, while Tom Brady, back from his “retirement,” should also have a great shot, assuming his play doesn’t drop off.
This all means Herbert should have less competition for the award than he did last season.
If the Chargers win the AFC West and finish with one of the league’s best records, he could very well win it.