Arm Talent, Winning, and the Justin Herbert Paradox

Omar Zahran
7 min readOct 29, 2023

The Charger QB is a gifted thrower but that hasn’t translated into meaningful wins. Are we giving him a pass because of his highlight worthy plays in lieu of winning plays that he has not consistently made?

Before the NFL season kicked off this year, the publication PFF ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Justin Herbert, the Chargers franchise QB, was ranked fourth behind Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow. This ranking placed him above players like Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Trevor Lawrence. The article projected that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore could “unlock” Herbert’s potential into the transcendent player that everyone is confident that he will become.

After 6 games, the Chargers are sitting at 2–4 and currently in line for a top 10 pick in next year’s draft alongside teams like the Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints that may be looking towards the future. Many fans have suggested that coaching is the problem with the Chargers, deflecting blame from Herbert for now. And yet despite this, we are attaching his teams 27–29 win-loss record with him as a starter to the overall conversation about him. It brings up a conversation about measuring QBs on team records and how a player like Herbert will continue to get the benefit of the doubt because of his arm talent.

The Importance of the Quarterback Position

In the last decade, 33 quarterbacks have been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. The position is the ultimate lottery ticket in the modern NFL. Hitting on a first round quarterback prospect can turn your fortunes from cellar dweller to playoff contender. Conversely, selecting the wrong prospect can often set your franchise back years on wasted development. For instance, the Denver Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round in 2016 to be their QB of the future and the team is still looking for answers at the position today after multiple different players have taken the helm under center.

To say that the quarterback position is the most important position in football today is a massive…