COSTA MESA — Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert doesn’t have a Twitter account because he doesn’t want to lose focus of his football responsibilities, but he occasionally updates his Instagram profile.
The star rookie posted updates Tuesday of a brisket he cooked on his Traeger grill to celebrate the Chargers’ win against the New York Jets last week. Herbert called it a “victory brisket” and said it would be a tradition after every Chargers win.
It was his first successful time cooking a brisket. He didn’t finish cooking a brisket following the Chargers’ win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7 because of fire evacuation orders near Irvine.
“It was pretty good,” Herbert said Wednesday. “It was a good victory brisket and looking forward to having more in the future.”
Herbert doesn’t mind sharing updates about his hobbies, but he’s not on Instagram to scroll through pictures that mention the many milestones he’s reached in his rookie season.
Just to name a few, Herbert is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to have five games with at least three passing touchdowns in a season. He set a rookie record for most passing yards in a first half with 277 against the Jets, and extended his rookie record to seven consecutive games for multi-touchdown performances.
Herbert is on pace to break the NFL rookie records for touchdown passes (27), completions (379) and passing yards (4,374) in a season held by Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz and Andrew Luck, respectively. Herbert has 22 touchdown passes, 238 completions and 2,699 passing yards in nine games this season.
“I unfortunately haven’t spent too much time online kinda looking at those things,” Herbert said about his rookie records. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job of focusing on what’s going on in this building. Staying focused with the game plan, our opponent, things like that. But I think it’s a sign of all the hard work that we’ve done as a team, so any accomplishment that an individual gets I think it’s reflective of the entire unit.”
Herbert is on track to hoist the Offensive Rookie of the Year award along with many other weekly sponsored awards. He’s won the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week vote six times and just received the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week award for his performance versus the Jets.
But Herbert’s teammates didn’t need the accolades and records to know they’ve found their star quarterback of the future.
Chargers tight end Hunter Henry recalled nudging teammates in awe during training camp after Herbert’s impressive downfield completions with speed and power.
“We saw a lot of glimpses during camp,” Henry said about when he realized Herbert was a franchise quarterback. “I was like, ‘goodness gracious.’ … I was like, ‘Wow. There are not many guys who can make that throw.’ And he continues to do it even in practice throughout the week.
“I always look at some of the guys. I’m like, ‘There’s not many guys who are making that throw.’ He’s a special talent. He’s only going to get better.”
Henry said Herbert continues to get better at the line of scrimmage by putting players in the right places after reading defenses and making audibles.
“Even the little things people aren’t noticing, he’s getting better at,” Henry said. “It’s a lot that people don’t really realize; switching the play, seeing the defense, seeing the safeties roll down, seeing the coverage.
“Maybe they’re bringing something that we weren’t expecting on that play and getting us out of that. There have many instances of that that people don’t even know that happens in games. He’s doing an incredible job.”
Herbert has become comfortable enough that coaches are allowing him to run a no-huddle offense, something he did heavily during his four collegiate years at Oregon. The Chargers went heavy no huddle against the Jets.
Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams said Herbert was very vocal against the Jets and was impressed at how composed he was while running the no huddle. Herbert threw for 366 yards, three touchdowns and didn’t have a turnover. Herbert and Williams connected for a 39-yard touchdown.
“It’s crazy,” Williams said about Herbert’s improvements. “And it’s going to get better each and every game and each and every year.”
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has benefited the most from Herbert’s historic rookie season. Allen saw 19 targets versus the Jets and set a franchise single-game record with 16 catches.
Allen has 81 catches, 835 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season.
“Thanks, Herbie,” Allen joked about his many targets last week. “It’s been special. He’s a special player. He’s been making some special plays. … He’s evolving into a great player.”
Herbert is making drastic improvements on the field, but he’s taking baby steps with his grilling skills.
He was surprised at how tasty his first “victory brisket” came out. His roommates and teammates Gabe Nabers and Nate Gilliam had the luxury of tasting the succulent meat.
“I was pretty surprised and I think the people that ate it were pretty surprised, too,” Herbert said. “This was a surprising thing that I did.”
It started as a surprise at how well Herbert has played his rookie season, but it’s become routine after nine starts.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa understands why he was flagged for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter against the Jets, but he disagrees with the rule.
Defenders aren’t allowed to hit quarterbacks below the knee. But Bosa said there was nothing else he could have done in that situation besides wrap Joe Flacco by the legs.
“I don’t know what to do about it. It’s the call, so I’m gonna have to try to not tackle him,” Bosa jokingly said Thursday. “But when I’m going down, it’s literally the only thing I could do. I could try to sweep his leg and throw my shoulder out and he just steps on my arm and runs right by me.
“But I don’t know. It’s kinda ridiculous. Obviously, you don’t want to hurt or take guys’ legs out, but I thought I did a good job of bringing him down and rolling off. I didn’t twist. I didn’t do anything like that. But the rule is if you hit him below the knee you can’t do that, so you gotta somehow sweep his leg or something ridiculous.”
Defensive end Melvin Ingram (knee), cornerback Casey Hayward (groin) and pass rusher Uchenna Nwosu (shoulder/chest) didn’t practice for the second consecutive day this week.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga didn’t practice Thursday and was listed with a knee injury and for a non-injury related reason. Running back Kalen Ballage (ankle/calf) was limited for a second consecutive practice.
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