The Los Angeles Chargers finished just 7-9 in 2020, but found a major bright spot in rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. He’ll have a new coaching staff for year two, after head coach Anthony Lynn was let go at the end of the sub-.500 season.
Lynn had been the Chargers head coach since 2017. He went 33-31 in that time, with one trip to the postseason in 2018, where they lost to the New England Patriots. After back-to-back losing seasons, the team fired Lynn, hiring young Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to lead the way. He hired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, the former New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach.
Lynn is now with the Detroit Lions as offensive coordinator, where he’ll look to get the most out of Jared Goff, the team’s new quarterback after the Matthew Stafford trade. During an appearance on the Compas On The Beat podcast, he reflected on his Chargers tenure, and specifically, how he handled bringing along Herbert, who was famously thrust into action just a few weeks into the season after a freak injury to Tyrod Taylor.
“I did not want to expose him too soon. I’ve seen what that has done to some top picks — especially at the quarterback position,” Lynn said, via ProFootballTalk. “And how sometimes, those young men never recover because they’re living in a day and age where media is just right there…
“But Justin had to go in and play. We didn’t have any choice. Tyrod got his lungs punctured. Justin found out as the ball was literally in the air — I’m grabbing Justin saying, ‘You’re the starter.’ And the way he handled that situation, I tell you what, he couldn’t have handled it any better.”
Given the circumstances, Justin Herbert’s first start couldn’t really have come at a less ideal time. He had to go against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, led by former MVP Patrick Mahomes, with a few seconds notice. He wound up completing 22-of-33 passes for 311 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and ran for a second score.
He’d finish this year with 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, and looks the part of future superstar. Anthony Lynn won’t get to see through that process, but he believes he laid a “great foundation” for him in their one year together.
“There’s a lot of things that went on that you guys will never know about behind the scenes,” Lynn said. “But that’s part of him being a young, rookie quarterback. But overall, the way he handled that situation, I could not have asked for anything better. And I just think that’s going to be a great foundation for him going forward.”