How Tyrod's odd injury, Herbert emergence impacts Raiders originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Chargers' offensive showing in Week 1 with Tyrod Taylor at the helm left a ton to be desired, giving the impression that the Bolts, while talented, might not be much of a threat for a playoff spot in 2020.
Things can change fast in the NFL, though.
Taylor injured his ribs in the Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He was expected to start the Chargers' Week 2 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but when the time came it was rookie Justin Herbert who got the nod. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday, citing sources, that a Chargers team doctor accidentally punctured Taylor's lung while trying to give him a pain-killing shot in his ribs, which led to Herbert's debut.
More details on the Chargers’ team doctor accidentally puncturing his own quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s lung just before kickoff Sunday while trying to administer a pain-killing injection to the quarterback’s cracked ribs:https://t.co/IUPlMaJ65J— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2020
Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was notified he was starting 30 seconds before kickoff and dazzled in his debut. He commanded the offense flawlessly on the opening drive, marching the Chargers 79 yards and capping off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Oregon product went 22-for-33 for 311 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while also rushing for 18 yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 overtime loss. But the L had little to do with his performance.
Herbert was efficient at keeping the offense moving and showcased impressive pocket presence and accuracy against the defending champs.
Herbert only made one mistake during his debut, albeit a costly one. With the Chargers leading 17-9 in the third quarter, Herbert rolled left and could have picked up a first down with his legs. Instead, he threw back across his body and was picked off, giving the Chiefs life. Patrick Mahomes took advantage of the error, leading a game-tying drive and the Chiefs won the game in overtime.
Despite Herbert's impressive debut, after the game coach Anthony Lynn said Taylor still would be the starter when healthy. It was a puzzling statement after the Chargers' offense looked punchless in their Week 1 win against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, a win in which Taylor only threw for 208 yards.
Taylor is a good veteran quarterback who takes care of the ball, which is most important to Lynn. But the Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and saddling them with a game manager only lowers their ceiling for a team that should be playoff bound with good quarterback play.
Lynn has said there's a reason Herbert was the backup, but the rookie was almost flawless in his debut with no notice and no work with the first team in practice during the week. He's expected to start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, a defense that has been mauled by the Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to open the season
Taylor's injury could resolve itself in a week or two, but Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reports sometimes strenuous activity is not allowed for four to six weeks.
No matter when Taylor returns, it's hard to see Herbert giving the job back if what we saw in Week 2 wasn't a mirage.
Having Herbert under center should raise the Chargers' ceiling this season. He and the Chargers just went toe-to-toe with Mahomes and the Chiefs and arguably should have won the game if not for some questionable decision-making from Lynn down the stretch and in overtime.
Yes, Herbert will make rookie mistakes, as he did in his debut. That's going to happen. But his ability to push the ball downfield to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and make tight window throws while still being able to beat teams with his legs makes the Chargers' offense more explosive than it is with Taylor leading the unit.
That's all in all bad news for a Raiders team that is flying high after two weeks.
Following a win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, the Raiders are one of 11 undefeated teams through two weeks. Their offense looks completely different with a full cast of weapons. The defense remains a work in progress but has done just enough to get two wins to start the season.
Jon Gruden's club entered the year looking to vault from 7-9 into playoff contention. With an extra playoff spot in each conference, that's an achievable goal.
The Broncos were thought to be one of the Raiders' chief competitors in the wild-card race, but an 0-2 start coupled with injuries to quarterback Drew Lock and defensive end Von Miller, who is out for the year have put them behind the eight-ball. A few more losses with Jeff Driskel at the helm and it will be "better luck next year" for the Mile High Ponies.
The Raiders should be in the driver's seat for the No. 2 spot in the division, but Herbert's emergence changes things. If he continues to progress, there's little chance Taylor will get his job back through no fault of his own.
Herbert wowed in Week 1 and it appears his time is now, giving the Chargers the perfect quarterback to lead what should be a potent offense.
The Raiders won't face the Chargers until Week 9, so there's no telling what the playoff race will look like then. But my guess is Herbert will have them in the thick of things, giving the Raiders another team to contend with for a playoff berth the Silver and Black desperately covet.