By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Justin Herbert is a dynamite young quarterback. He was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, and he started this year showing that he intends to be a part of the future of the league at the quarterback spot. He is, without question, excellent at his job.
Except for when he plays the Patriots.
Herbert has now played against Bill Belichick’s team twice, with both meetings coming in Herbert’s home stadium (even though the Patriots fans may have outnumbered Chargers fans on Sunday). Despite being in a good situation with a better team, Herbert just can’t solve the Patriots.
The quarterback was just 18-for-35 on Sunday, throwing for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, the second of which essentially lost the game for Los Angeles.
GO ADRIAN!!@Phillips_17 pick-six for the lead!
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 31, 2021
Herbert’s day wasn’t even as good as the mediocre numbers would suggest; he racked up 80 passing yards and a touchdown on the Chargers’ final drive, when the Patriots led by two scores and were playing it safe on defense.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as last year’s debacle, when Herbert went 26-for-53 for 209 yards with no touchdowns and two picks.
The two games vs. the Patriots now stand as the two worst starts of Herbert’s young career. He has a 52.8 passer rating in those two games vs. New England, and a 102.1 rating against everybody else.
Justin Herbert vs. Patriots:
216 Y/G, 6.0 Y/A
2 TDs, 4 INTs
Justin Herbert vs. Everyone Else:
295 Y/G, 7.5 Y/A
45 TDs, 12 INTs
102.1 rating pic.twitter.com/tC9YeNZqir
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) November 1, 2021
After Sunday’s loss, Herbert said that the Patriots’ defense was showing him looks that they hadn’t given anyone else all year.
“We saw a lot of Cover 2. That was just one of those things that they did not show all year,” Herbert said. “That is one of those gameplan things where you go into the game, see and address at halftime. I thought we did a great job at communicating that.”
Herbert added: “A lot of disguise. We were expecting a lot of man [coverage], but did not get a whole lot of that today. … It was just a tough day for us, but we are going to have to get better from it.”
Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, though, spoke to a completely different expectation heading into the game.
“We knew that they were going to play a ton of zone,” Staley said. “Line up like man, play zone.”
Whatever the case may have been on Sunday, the issue remains. Even with a different head coach, even with fans now in the building, even with different players on both sides of the ball, Justin Herbert has a Patriots problem.