Justin Herbert’s promising debut Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs wasn’t enough to make Chargers coach Anthony Lynn change his quarterback plans for the 2020 season.
Lynn said Monday that Tyrod Taylor remains the Chargers’ starting quarterback and Herbert, this year’s No. 6 overall pick, will continue to develop from the sidelines.
But that depends on Taylor’s health. Taylor had difficulty breathing minutes before the Chargers faced the Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. Herbert impressed on short notice, but the Chiefs rallied for a 23-20 overtime victory.
“If Tyrod Taylor is 100 percent, he’s our quarterback,” Lynn said. “If Tyrod can’t go and we have to go with Justin, I am perfectly content with that. I know we can win with either quarterback, but the veteran quarterback right now gives us the best chance to win, and it’s not like we won the damn game.”
Lynn didn’t say if Taylor will be ready to play in this week’s home game against the Carolina Panthers, but mentioned that the 10th-year quarterback is doing well at home after a hospital visit.
NFL Network reported Taylor experienced complications from a pregame injection meant for a rib injury. Taylor appeared on Friday’s injury report, but was a full participant at practice and removed from the final report. Taylor was planning to wear a flak jacket to protect his ribs, according to NFL Network.
“There was some complications,” Lynn said. “I don’t want to get into the details of what went wrong with Tyrod, but there were some complications.”
Lynn said Herbert isn’t ready to be a full-time starter, but he was impressed with his performance versus the Chiefs. Herbert completed 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He finished an impressive eight-play, 79-yard opening drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
But Lynn saw many mistakes besides the costly interception in triple coverage that led to the Chiefs tying the game 17-17 in the fourth quarter.
“Don’t get me wrong, I thought what Justin did, I thought he came in and gave us a chance to win,” Lynn said, “but there’s a lot you don’t know. There’s a lot we didn’t get done with Justin on the field yesterday. He’s a backup for a reason. He’s a rookie and there’s a lot he needs to learn about this game.”
Lynn used Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes as an example for why sitting and learning can help Herbert in the long run. Mahomes didn’t play his rookie season and learned from Alex Smith in 2017.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a rookie quarterback coming in sitting his fair share instead of throwing him into the fire and letting him learn on the go,” Lynn said. “I know John Elway did that. Peyton Manning did that. They took a lot of abuse (early in their careers), but those guys were strong minded. They overcame it and they are Hall of Famers.
“Not every quarterback can do that. Not saying Justin can’t. … But right now, Tyrod hasn’t done anything to lose his job. It wasn’t his fault he wasn’t on the field yesterday. We’ll just see how it goes from here.”
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler referred to Taylor as his starting quarterback, but was also impressed with Herbert.
Ekeler praised Herbert for his accuracy and ability to read defenses, especially two weeks into his first NFL season. Ekeler said teammates gave Herbert words of encouragement to calm his nerves in the huddle of the opening drive.
“He was making checks that I’ve seen Philip (Rivers) make, which I was pretty proud of him,” Ekeler said about Herbert. “Checking out of plays and recognizing defense. Just doing his job. … I thought his leadership was well.”
Herbert got his teammates and fans excited for the future with his promising debut. But many fans on social media weren’t pleased to learn that the future won’t become the present if Taylor is healthy to play in Week 3.
“I’m really excited about Justin,” Lynn said about disgruntled fans with his decision. “That’s why we took him at six (in the draft). I think he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback, but I want to put him out there when I know he’s ready.”
Chargers defensive back Desmond King went to Twitter on Sunday night to express frustration about his lack of playing time against the Chiefs.
King, who has mostly played safety this season, saw 44 out of 77 snaps.
“Is there a reason I’m not on the field?” King tweeted. “Some people want to know. I’ll continue to do my job, but I’m going to need answers real soon.”
Lynn said he was disappointed King went to social media instead of talking to him.
“Everyone in our building knows if they need answers where to go get those answers,” Lynn said. “They might not like the answers, but they know where to go get it.”
Lynn said right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and safety Rayshawn Jenkins (groin) are day-to-day with the injuries they sustained versus the Chiefs.
Lynn said defensive tackle Justin Jones’ shoulder injury might be more severe than Bulaga’s injury and day-to-day status.
Lynn also confirmed that former Chargers safety Jahleel Addae was scheduled for a visit with the team. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle was first to report Addae’s visit.
Addae played his first six seasons with the Chargers before playing for the Texans last season.