Dan Fouts: Even if Justin Herbert has to start right away, 'he can handle it'

Dwight Jaynes
NBC Sports Northwest

Dan Fouts has walked the path that stands before Justin Herbert. And the former Oregon and San Diego Chargers quarterback believes that the Chargers -- now, of course, relocated to Los Angeles -- are a very good fit for Herbert, who was the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft Thursday..

"I think, Number One, they've got talent," Fouts said by phone from his long-time home in Sisters. "And they've done some things to address their offensive line.

"Hopefully, those will work out.

"Tyrod Taylor appears to be in place (as the starting QB) so I don't think the pressure to start right away will be on Herbert. Although, if that is a reality, I think he can handle it.

"And for him, wherever he ended up, I thought he would do fine."

The Chargers got Hall of Famer-to-be Fouts as a bargain -- a third-round pick out of Oregon, 64th player taken in the 1973 draft -- and he sat behind aging Johnny Unitas for four games as a rookie before getting six starts for a team that finished 2-11-1. But in earlier times, it was customary that rookie quarterbacks didn't start right away -- they waited their turn behind established veterans.

Fouts sees a few things Herbert will need to prepare for in the NFL -- but they are the same things he believes all young quarterbacks need to learn as they step up from the college game.

"The biggest thing for any quarterback, and this isn't just Justin, but because of the speed of the game and the athleticism of the defensive players, anticipation is vital," Fouts said. "Your guy is not always going to be wide open. There are a lot of looks and the quarterback has to decipher and anticipate where the receiver is going to be and drop it in there. That's Number One.

"And Number Two is just ball placement for the receiver, so that the receiver doesn't lose momentum trying to make a catch of a ball that's behind him or has to jump for. But these are things that everybody has to deal with at quarterback.

"It comes with experience."

Fouts hasn't had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Herbert but expects to do that.

"Not yet," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him. The season is so up in the air right now I'm not sure what the future holds, but there will be a time."

In a bewildering move a few weeks ago, CBS decided to drop Fouts from his long-time role as color commentator alongside play-by-play man Ian Eagle. The pair served as the network's No. 2 NFL broadcast team and worked together for a decade.

"I don't want to retire," said Fouts, who turns 69 in June. "I'm exploring options -- that's the popular saying.  But everything's on hold until we find a cure (for COVID-19).

"Ian and I are so close and I think he's fantastic."

Fouts also wishes the Chargers were back in San Diego, where they were a beloved franchise.

"It goes without saying," he said.

Dan Fouts: Even if Justin Herbert has to start right away, 'he can handle it' originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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