‘Hard Knocks’ caps off whirlwind off-season for Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert will have to fend off ‘Hard Knocks’ cameras as a rookie

Thursday afternoon, it was announced that the 2020 edition of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks will feature two teams: The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. The two teams have many things in common: both teams won double digit games in 2018 and followed it up with single digit wins in 2019. However, only one let a franchise quarterback walk and brought in Justin Herbert instead.

They also both have elite players on their roster but had quarterback inconsistencies in 2019.

For the Chargers, they chose to address the quarterback position with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Los Angeles made Oregon’s Herbert their first day one quarterback selection since the infamous Eli Manning and Philip Rivers trade of 2004. Herbert is a big, strong, athletic specimen of a quarterback. As of now, Herbert is behind Tyrod Taylor on the depth chart, which will undoubtedly be documented on ‘Hard Knocks.’

Having his first training camp be documented on national television is just the final tip of the iceberg for Herbert’s roller coaster of an off-season. Between the draft process, no off-season camps, and moving to a new city for the first time, Herbert simply cannot catch a break.

The draft process is not easy for anyone. Now throw in a global pandemic that limits travel, pro days, and medical checks. The 2020 NFL draft class lived an absolute nightmare while preparing for the draft.

Some prospects like Joe Burrow and Chase Young had a good understanding of where they were going, making the process easier. For Herbert, he had no idea where he was going. He could have gone as early as five to the Miami Dolphins or as low as 23 to the New England Patriots.

These circumstances meant that every virtual meeting with every team was absolutely crucial. Herbert needed to wow teams in interviews with his personality. One of the completely unnecessary criticisms of Herbert from draft pundits was his “soft spoken” demeanor. Many believed that he could not be an NFL quarterback without being a vocal “alpha male”.

The Chargers selected Justin Herbert and now he must move to a new city for the first time in his life. Herbert has lived in Eugene, Oregon his entire life. Not only does he have to move to a new city, he has to do so during these times where there are heavy restrictions on everything.

Now as training camp can be seen in the distance, it is time for Herbert to finally focus on football. The off-season programs that he would have been using to soak up knowledge and bond with his new teammates were shifted to virtual camps. When it comes to competing with Taylor for the starting job, Herbert is way behind the eight ball.

Now, add ‘Hard Knocks’ to the equation, and Herbert’s off-season has been plagued by distractions. He had to try and improve his draft stock while also having to worry about the health and safety of himself and his family.

Also, not being on an NFL roster until April also hindered his development. Now, he has to try and focus on winning the starting job in an altered training camp with national television cameras around him all day. This particular television program will no doubt try and focus on Herbert because he is a first round quarterback.

What is the best path to success for Justin Herbert? Just putting his head down and focusing on football. He is so far behind Taylor in being ready for the season that he may have no shot to be the starter in week one. His first off-season has been full of unbelievable inconveniences and the best thing for him may be to sit for a few weeks to open the season.