Tom Brady has been winning since Justin Herbert was still in diapers. The Offensive Rookie of the Year would like to replicate Brady’s Super Bowl success.
Asked Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio if there was a QB he hoped to emulate, the 22-year-old Herbert said Brady is the player all other signal-callers aspire to be.
“I think anyone should aspire to be like Tom Brady, to have as much success as he’s had for as long as he’s been able to do it,” Herbert said. “I don’t think there’s anyone that’s ever done anything like that before. To win, that’s the ultimate goal of the quarterback position is to put your team in a position to win. He’s been able to do that. He’s a competitor, and he finds a way to win, and I think that’s the best part about it.”
Herbert’s rookie season was a good start. The first-year QB often put his club in a position to swipe a win. Too often, however, the Chargers came up short, going 7-9 and missing the postseason.
Comparing Herbert’s rookie season to Brady’s is an effort in futility. One is famously a sixth-round pick who sat for a year and began his career in a different era. The other is a franchise-changing first-rounder in an era where QBs are heaved into the fire off the bat in a passing league.
Herbert tossed for 4,336 yards, 31 TDs with 10 INTs and completed 66.6 percent of his passes. Brady didn’t throw for 4,000-plus yards until 2005 or have 30-plus TDs until 2007. It’s what TB12, with his addiction to competition and improvement, has done since his first season that separates him from all other QBs.
Herbert knows even after an impressive rookie campaign, there is plenty of areas of his game to improve.
“I think I can keep learning about the game,” he said. “I think if I know more about defenses, coverages, pressures, all of that, I think that better helps our team. And I think if I can master the playbook and know exactly what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, so that when I get up to the line of scrimmage and I see a certain front, see a certain pressure, I’m able to get us into a great play.”
With a new coach in Brandon Staley and new coordinator in Joe Lombardi, Herbert will be learning his second offense in two seasons. Constant changes have hindered young QBs in the past from making the next leap — something Brady rarely had to deal with in New England.
To compete with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, Herbert knows he’ll have to continue to progress.
“It’s to keep getting better, to improve,” he said when asked how L.A. keeps up with K.C. “You know, we played some pretty good football there at the end of the year, and put four in a row — four wins, four big wins — with a couple tow-minute drives, and big defensive stops. And if we could apply that to the entire year, there’s a lot to look forward to, because I think we’ve got the roster. I think we’ve got the locker room. I believe in those guys, and I believe in the staff, so I’m really excited to be part of it.”
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